The HR & Budget Reports: 2008-2011

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.


Classroom Personnel Comparison 2008 – 2011

*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.

DCSS Employee Count Beginning Jan 2011

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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357 Responses to The HR & Budget Reports: 2008-2011

  1. formerdekalbparent says:

    According to a top administrator from the Service center…67% of all staff cut from Mechanical Maintenance, Food services, transporatation and capital improvements. Of course the bulk of these employees were the ones doing the actual work, and NOT earing the huge salaries. Who will bea avilable to our schools when these systems need attention?

  2. DSWparticipant says:

    @dekalbschoolwatch. Thank you so much for the effort and time you put in to provide the analysis and report on the DCSD proposed and actual budgets. Those of us within the schools can certainly attest to a CONFLICT in what we are told about the budget (no money, no step increase, lowered salary, no space) and the evidence of purchasing by what we seeing coming into our buildings. Any hint at things not being “right” is met with “Well, that was purchased with funds that can only be spent that way.” ——————————————————————————————- On another note, what is also very disturbing is the amount of stuff that makes its way to the dumpsters due to lack of space! If books are “out-dated” we should give them to the children who have no books at home. “Oh, the school system has a contract with ____ to pick up old books (to burn, shred them)? So sorry. I guess I got my priorities wrong!” ——————————————
    Old books: Let’s talk about them. “Why are these very useful books not being used?” Classroom teacher: “I agree they’re good, but THEY don’t want us to use books, except as SUPPLEMENTS, so we copy off and use worksheets.” Also, since such publications as the the workBOOK titled “Worksheets don’t Grow Dendrites” has made people nervous about worksheets, we play games that are engaging (but over the heads of many so that they learn to lean on group-mates to do their thinking for them–collaborative activities–until some of the more advanced students say, “Could I just do this project on my own?”). The matter about books for adults is that we can hold it, turn it over, leaf through it, look at the Table of Contents, look at the Index, thumb through chapters to get a feel for the Big Picture. Although the Big Picture has been a focus of literature in the last decade, we would prefer to use worksheets so that it doesn’t appear that we are relying on a book. Students are not going to hang on to their worksheets (their mothers won’t let them) and organize them whereby they could be used for review. Teachers don’t hang on to them and organize them. So, . . . what a waste. And the end result? More than one college instructor acquaintance decrying the decline in student achievement prior to getting to college, the dependence on “games,” and the general lack of an expectation for “rigor.” Yes, we say we want rigor, but we don’t want it to look as if the teacher is teaching. Only facilitating. How did I get on this rant?!! Our leaders everywhere are more confused than the teachers and paras. And they suffer from a constant, abiding fear that they’ll get caught not finding and rooting out the BAD teachers! And little consensus among teacher observers. They all want something different: larger groupings, smaller groupings, sit here, don’t sit there, etc., etc., etc. What an atmosphere the world of education has become!——————————————————————————–
    This was supposed to have been a one-line thank you for your work on the budget. Maybe I had better do what my dad used to say, “Go back to bed and get up on the other side.” Do you think that will help?

  3. DSWparticipant says:

    @formerdekalbparent. Yep! Makes sense. That’s how we do it here.

  4. AnonMom says:

    There’s no real accountability – no forensic audits — no risk of being prosecuted – no on-line check register or pcard register — yet the BOE manages a billion taxpayer dollars a year and “educates” a hundred thousand children and serves as the largest (or 2nd) largest employer in the county…. something is terribly wrong with this system of “checks and balances” — it is ultimately operating as an enormous pipeline to prison and is ready for a chapter 11 reorg.

  5. bu2 says:

    Perhaps not an apples to apples comparison depending on how subsitutes are accounted for in salaries, but average wage has gone up since 2008 despite the furloughs (salary budget/regular employees).
    2008 41,258
    2009 43,522
    2010 43,057
    2011 43,134

  6. Miss Management says:

    LOL – more advanced students say, “Could I just do this project on my own?”

    My son once almost single-handedly produced a ‘magazine’ for a ‘group’ English project in high school. Each article had to have a by line, so most had his since he wrote almost everything in the end after no one else submitted a thing (except one student emailed a short article at 11 pm the night before the project was due). He was also the artist, layout, editor, etc… Guess what?!! The teacher gave him a “D” because he didn’t give anyone else in the group very much credit!

  7. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    This is why we left subs off of our employee totals. We usually have about 1,500 subs on the list. They can really throw the numbers off.

  8. Weary worker says:

    Speaking of wages going up. This may be a matter beyond DCSS but with stalled pay I’ve seen more and ore staff get Ph. D. from online diploma mills in the last few years. I’m not trying to downplay the importance of staff education but how necessary is it to have 2nd grade teachers with a Ph. D.? If the situation was a high school science teacher who earned an advanced degree in his field from a real college of science this may be different. If you want to have more teachers with advanced degrees in such fields as “educational leadership” either let them find admin slots when they become available or limit the number that can be on any single campus.

  9. just sad says:

    I do not see although literally I see from the post that the numbers increased but in real life teacher’s bank accounts nothing increased in terms of pay. There are teachers that received supplements to add to their pay because it was below the State’s recommended salary.

    So where do we stand with taking a stand?
    Are we all wearing black today at the meeting? Are we signing petitions as someone mentioned they would start? Are we all calling SACS with questions? What are we doing to let this super and board know we are here and we are watching everything. We are demanding better for our kids and the schoolhouse staff that put in the work. We need to be clear on what we are doing together. Three people with black on could be a coincidence. 100 people with black on makes headlines.

  10. dcsdteacher says:

    I completely agree with your analysis about the mess that all this “collaboration” has caused. If teachers would make one simple change–get kids out of these ridiculous desk groupings where they sit facing one another, a set-up for socializing, and put them back into rows for most tasks–there would be many fewer discipline problems. Yet many principals won’t let teachers even try out another kind of organization, despite research that shows that restoring the row arrangement improves performance. Here’s one ref: Of note, the most disruptive students benefited the most.

  11. Just saying says:

    In the Metro Section of the AJC on yesterday, there was an article stating that DCSS cut their special education budget by 10.8 million dollars. We still get the paper edition of the AJC. I know that some of these 10.8 million dollars are teachers and para educators.If you do not believe me, ask for special ed staff members that have lost their jobs to e mail the blog.
    They are not administrative cost only, Unless you have ever had a special needs child or worked closely with one, you have no idea how much it requires for them to learn. It takes special training to work with these students. The article stated that the 10.8 was the largest cut from any one area. Please look on PATS and see the non school based jobs listed at ‘good salaries.”
    If the names and jobs of the people that were terminated are ever published you will see that jobs were not eliminated. People were eliminated. The job title was changed and then “new” people from out of the district were hired to fill the new jobs. HR has already started this process.
    Why do we need a full time DCSS spokes person and at the same time we have PDS that does not even bother to show all of the BOE Meetings?
    Why does each Region need two coordinators?
    Why do we need a person to monitor compliance of IEP”s, shouldn’t the staff already in place be doing that?
    Does everyone in a high position in the district need an individual executive level secretary?
    If we want to reach more students with the Fernbank Staff, put some of these teachers in schools that have very low science scores and let them work each day with the same students, As wonderful as it might be to visit Fernbank, it is the day to day instruction that makes a different.Nancy Jester made an excellent comment concerning the fact that the district still has very low science test scores.
    Return some of the staff from Professional Learning to the schools. Much of the required Professional Learning is done in the schools now and done on line.

  12. DSWparticipant says:

    @Miss Management. Mmmmm! That just makes my blood boil! We have become so set on buzzwords, special agendas, and “notions” (while we’re being told that these “theories” are research-based and proven effective) that we educators have stopped thinking on our own!

  13. concerned teacher says:

    Not only will the the kids have to teach themselves, they will also have to make lunch and do repairs around the school.

  14. sosad says:

    Great work and good investigating. We know this type of research takes time. I almost dropped my remote when Walker insisted the BOE not do another investigation in the Finance and HR departments. If any business is in a budget situation like DCSS is, who wouldn’t want to do as many audits as possible. Walker knows that something will be found and it will make him and the board look even worse once the skeletons are out the closet.
    You are correct DSW and we are in the same situation now. While everyone is focusing on the budget and cuts, Atkinson is making sure her friends and old co workers are given employment opportunities. Look on PATS right now and see all the new postings that are continuing to go up. How to you even mention cutting school staff but yet continue to post central office jobs. How do you cut employees from central office and then post similar positions the next week. It is a bait and switch tactic. People don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. Another investigation needs to be conducted on who these new hires are and if they were truly certified and qualified for the positions they were hired in.
    I don’t know how anything can get better unless the state or feds step in. What scares me is that on the state level, there are so many connections that the cover ups may still take place. I will say this though, there are two departments that matter most in this crisis. HR and Finance both need to be truly investigated from top to bottom. True Chief of HR and CFO for finance need to be hired who have proven track records in the business sector. (Sorry current Chief of Finance, you are just not cutting it and current Chief of HR, never should of stepped foot in HR in the first place) When you have a CFO who looks at the Superintendent at a board meeting as to say, “What should I say next Dr. A?”, that person needs to go. When you have a Chief of HR who has as many unprofessional complaints and who was promoted by friends, that person needs to go.
    Finance is the money and HR is the hiring and firing. Two departments that Dr. A has never even stepped foot in. Two departments that the board voted no to deeply investigate. But yet it is all about the kids and what is best for children? When adults take away from children….its a special place for those kind of people.

  15. DSWparticipant says:

    @dcsdteacher. Thank you for saying this. It is so OBVIOUS within a few minutes of being in most classrooms what the problems are with students facing each other instead of the teacher, that it is perplexing how anyone keeps these configurations for very long. Why does it require research when teachers and administrators themselves can figure out that students’ not paying attention, not hearing, not comprehending relates to their not being able to see the teacher. How do they copy material from a board they cannot see? Any teacher that says anything about configurations or noise is given hints that they should go to some other school. To whom do these students belong, after all? There has also been ample research around for many years regarding the impact of noise. Yet, that research should not be necessary. Any teacher or administrator that would sit down with a student or small group could figure out within a few minutes that it is problematic . Yet it is those of us that dare say anything that end up on the hot seat. Why?

  16. sosad says:

    You are exactly right. People were eliminated, not the jobs. I’m telling you, it is a big bait and switch. The people who were eliminated jobs were reposted only to have mostly outside people and Dr. A’s people come on board. Now some of these people needed to go but you also had many good people who did a good job who were not making much money who were cut because they weren’t part of the family and friends or the inner circles. I don’t think anyone would be upset if they were cut for the true CAUSE but to be cut and then replaced after that person did nothing wrong is a different story. Also notice how the top paying positions were not eliminated. Hardly any fat was cut from the top. A true leader leads by example. If I am asking for my employees to take a cut, I would be the first one to decrease my pay! (hint hint Dr. A) I don’t care if it is just 5% or 10% but I would take a cut. Bad leadership is a true disease and DeKalb is truly infected.

  17. DSWparticipant says:

    @Just sad. Teachers who are not Dekalb residents wearing all black makes a visual statement, yes. However, Dekalb residents WITH VOTING POWER wearing all black provides not only a visual statement but a real force to be reckoned with. To turn this thing around is going to require Dekalb residents realizing they cannot depend on a childhood image of the powerful teacher. In this case, you have the power.

  18. DSWparticipant says:

    @Weary worker. You refer to other weary workers getting degrees from diploma mills. To which schools are you referring as being diploma mills?

  19. dcsdteacher says:

    It’s so welcome to feel this support from the community! But what’s next? Surely there are legal experts out there who could come to our rescue! The “Professional” associations are worthless, it’s clear. Unfortunately for science achievement in DCSS, these developments aren’t going to put the fired FSC teachers out in the schools in this county: many will look in other districts with better salaries and working conditions and, perhaps most important, greater respect for what teachers do. FSC staff have all been fired and told to reapply for their jobs, but the job descriptions are vague and the rehires will be at the whim of the Administration–yet another F&F-fest. This is a large group of teachers who were fired and still, just a few days before school begins, don’t know whether they have jobs or benefits.

  20. Disgusted in Dekalb says:

    Sosad, I couldn’t agree more. When the chairman of the board says that an investigation needs to be conducted into whether cuts mandated by the board were actually implemented and the board votes AGAINST the investigation, some entity outside of the system needs to step in. The DA has shown no willingness to do so. I’m assuming that the state DOE thinks it is too messy politically. What are concerned parents and taxpayers to do?

  21. Miz Merty says:

    Considering the large number of F&F, how many of them have been demoted or released?
    And don’t forget Zeporah Robert’s two daughters!

  22. Miz Merty says:

    And Frances Edwards’ family?

  23. The Deal says:

    DSW, thank you so much for all of this research. You think it’s something anyone can do, but it is really a skill you have to look through all of the data and parse out the useful and outstanding information.

    Does anyone know if citizens can request a forensic audit? I thought Womack requested an audit at the last monthly board meeting, it was put to a vote, and it was voted down. Does anyone remember that?

  24. concernforthekids says:

    Miz Merty,
    I heard Phillandrea has been RIF’d and David Guillory has been reassigned and is still in the transportation department. I asked about David’s salary and was told that HR makes the salary recommendation.
    If David G. continues to receive his full compensation as THE director of Transportation instead of a lower salary commensurate for a director of a transportation department, then we will ALL know our HR department requires new leadership. I do not know where the other Edward’s offspring is hiding.


  25. concerned teacher says:

    Exactly. The leaders should be leading in showing us how to live with less. If you can call $150,000 to 250, 000 less.

  26. Just saying says:

    is the meeting being broadcast?

  27. MyohMy says:

    Another issue in the mix: One important factor which needs to be examined and explained is supplanting. Supplanting is against the law. DeKalb used to assign all federal and state Special Ed funding directly to the classroom in the form of teachers, paras, classroom supplies, specialized equipment, etc. In the last few years, the county has opted to take federal special ed dollars away from the special ed children to add to the general fund and in some cases to pay administrator salaries. An outside audit would reveal a lot about how all special ed federal funds are used. While using a portion of the federal dollars to pay the electric bil, etc. is allowed, it is a limited amount. This is a critical issue in delivering services to children.

  28. The Deal says:

    At the Palace. All of 11 people and no news trucks. Where’s the outrage? Where’s the throngs of angry people?

  29. booksrkool says:

    Thanks DSW for your hard work. My initial response is WOW! So why did the Board vote against an audit? I saw the Mrs. Speaks abstained. Why? These are rhetorical questions.

  30. Thanks for the report Deal. This has long been our frustration as well.

  31. Please. We ask repeatedly … be sure of your facts! Paul Womack is the chair of the Finance Committee; Gene Walker is the chair of the board.

  32. justwatch says:

    Hey, have more people showed up? Rumor is, that Atkinson wasn’t going to be there — any chance she is? Explanation given if she isn’t?

  33. sick of dekalb says:

    I am split on attending any board meting ….on one hand I am concerned about my job and want to attend…on the other…I am not willing to provide an audience to the Friends and Family sideshow….These people are a bunch of clowns and should all be removed….

  34. These are the employee/staffing audits that have contracted by the superintendent:

    Human Resources
    Karaton Services Inc
    Job Reclassification/Position Specifications Development & Implementation
    Cost: $79,000.00

    2 Human Resources
    Huge & Associates
    HR Functions and Processes Audit
    Completed & available
    Cost: $45,000.00

    3 Strategic Management & Accountability
    Pughsley & Associates
    Strategic Management/Aligned Management System Implementation
    In Process
    Cost: $45,000.00

    4 Curriculum & Instruction
    Education Planners LLC
    Curricula Programs & Professional Development Audit
    Completed & Available
    Cost: $40,000.00

    5 School Leadership & Operations
    Dr. Ralph Taylor
    Safe School & Alternative Programs Audit
    Completed & Available
    Cost: $10,000.00

    Total for above audits: $219,000.00

    Some of these are available under our Facts & Sources TAB, Audits & Budgets page.
    As far as we know, a forensic audit of finances has not been ordered.

    For a detailed explanation of the approved 2012 budget, visit the link below at the superintendent’s website:

  35. No. It’s a called meeting. They only broadcast [and record] the regular monthly board meetings. We can rarely find minutes from called meetings. Actually, we can rarely find minutes from monthly board meetings either! They haven’t posted any minutes online since last October. Even then, they were not very detailed.

  36. educator90 says:

    Teachers that do this are thought to be out dated and not doing the students justice. I remember being marked down on my evaluations for not having my students in groups, even though my students were on task and had good test scores. Groups never made any sense to me, but it was a hot topic that was taken out of context and got out of hand.

    Thanks for posting that article.

  37. Concerned DeKalb Mom says:

    1pm during a workday is not the easiest time for the public to attend. I realize people make arrangements when things are a priority…but this is the 3rd time they’ve scheduled some sort of meeting about the budget and teacher cuts. How many times can working folks rearrange their schedules??

    So frustrating…

  38. How about you stepping up to do this job, Miz Merty? We spent more than 40 hours pulling together and researching the budget information just posted. So, we — and the rest of the DSW readers — would really appreciate if you would go through all the names of those RIF’d, terminated, reassigned, demoted, etc and let us all know how many are Friends-and-Family. While you are at it, please let us know how many retirees were re-hired at what salary and how many Friends-and-Family were rehired at a new title, as soon as the heat was off. All these names are published with the monthly HR reports attached to the board meeting agendas and generally rubber-stamped for approval by the board.

  39. No. Just a re-run of the last regular board meeting (Monday, July 9, 2012).

  40. educator90 says:

    Didn’t know about the meeting, until this morning. Can’t keep my mouth shut to sit and watch children’s lives go down the toilet in person. Would it really matter if parents showed up? Would decisions change and get better?

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