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. Justwanttodomyjob says:

    The arrogance and opacity of this proclaimed transparent administration never ceases to amaze me. Broadcasting July 9th meeting instead of today’s meeting. Once again, we little people are left in the dark over matters effecting our lives.
    Is there anyone in attendance who can post updates ?

  2. teachermom says:

    Any more news or is it still going on?

  3. Inatlanta says:

    I did not attend the meeting. No information so far from central office, except a post about the furlough days reducing salary (posted on 7/16 at 1:46p.m.).

  4. booksrkool says:

    @ DSW thanks again…but still things were not handled better by upper managment? Well, in the next 14 business days we will find out just how helpful all of these audits were. Unfortunately, I’m already thinking that they (audits) were/are a waste of money. But I could be wrong.

  5. murphey says:

    Vote was 5-2 against approving the RIF. Voting for the RIF were Jay Cunningham and Tom Bowen. Voting against the RIF were Gene Walker, Donna Edler, Sarah Copelin-Wood, Don McChesney, and Nancy Jester. Paul Womack and Pam Speaks were not at the meeting.

  6. No and no. Unless SACS takes action, the Governor can’t do anything. SACS won’t take action and SACS’s BS “standards” are hardly actionable. Plus DCSS is the SACS cash cow that supports the lifestyle to which Mark Elgart has become accustomed — keeping his daughter in private school. Superintendent John Barge and the State Board of Education are powerless. A recall of the DCSS Board of Education won’t be fast and there is no assurance of success. Further, South DeKalb voters have shown absolutely no inclination or ability to select competent candidates for the Board of Education.

    Our best suggestion is to organize and march, en masse, on local television stations. That should grab some visibility. Begin with the station with the highest viewership — and day-by-day work your way down the list. The others won’t want to be left out. This would be a good project for a joint effort by all those running for a school board seat. Maybe that kind of action will force SACS to do something. Just a thought …

  7. The Deal says:

    I’ll give a quick summary. Got to pick up kids from camp now.

    Around 75 people present in the audience
    Atkinson, Womack, and Speaks were not present.
    The only agenda item was the RIF.
    Most of the audience was teachers.
    Jester, McChesney, Cunningham, Bowen, Walker, and Edler spoke. Cunningham was the only person who spoke in favor of moving ahead with RIFs.
    Bowen questioned where the money would come from if they didn’t RIF
    Walker spoke very strongly that it is the superintendent’s job to provide the board a plan that meets the budget and their approval. He did not think the RIF plan was acceptable.
    When they voted, Bowen and Cunningham were the only ones in support of the RIF plan.
    Adjourned abruptly with no plan for another meeting

  8. booksrkool says:

    Thank you 🙂

  9. I teach first grade and have an Ed.S. from Mercer. When I save enough money I will go back and get Ph.D. Why? Because it’s the ONLY way to increase my pay. In the past 6 years, I have been stuck on step 2. I joined this profession knowing I wouldn’t make much, but that over time, my pay would increase. I’m seriously considering majoring in accounting and joining that profession instead.

  10. Teacher747 says:

    I put my students in groups, and I don’t have discipline issues and I have high test scores. The truth of the matter is for many things groups work really well. I have co-workers that don’t use them, and that is their choice. There is nothing wrong though with putting your students in groups. It’s a matter of personal preference and your teaching style.

  11. PublicSchoolDad says:

    What a train wreck this has become… Was there any explanation as to why Atkinson wasn’t present for this meeting? Are we to assume that she was on vacation? If so, did the head of our school system really go on vacation during a crisis of this magnitude?

  12. Just a Mom says:

    Dr. Atkinson was not in attendance, no details given as to why. My observations: Nancy was very tenacious in her questioning of Mr Perrone that other items needed to be reviewed thoroughly for cuts. As she reminded us a couple of times, she did not vote for this budget and apparently she was not going to make it easy to implement what she didn’t vote for (thankfully). For example, she questioned the possible renegotiation of legal fees, which drew applause from the audience. We were then scolded by Dr. Walker for our “lack of decorum”! McChesney pushed for a salary reduction for all non-school house employees. Legal said that would be an issue for all “certificated” employees – who ever they are! (didn’t seem to be a problem to void signed teacher contracts though). Dr. Walker scolded the press about past reporting on board actions and told them to get the story straight. Donna rambled on and on about something and then SCW called for the vote. 2 – 5 in favor of RIF, applause from the audience, meeting adjourned.

  13. dcsdteacher says:

    Thanks for doing what newspaper TV etc should be doing–keeping community abreast of these (non)developments. Doesn’t it sound like the Board is moving toward firing Dr. A, by setting up strong, visible disagreement on the key item of the budget? Clearly there’s substantial confrontation afoot there…and teachers still won’t know whether they have jobs come three weeks from now. Did she boycott the meeting? It certainly looks like she’s making a power statement: even if she’s out of town, she could send a spokesperson.

  14. Just a Mom says:

    Mr. Perrone was her announced spokeperson. Feel a little bad for him; he seems like a reasonable person but he sure inherited a mess.

  15. DSWparticipant says:

    @Nikole. To add to what you said: A Ph.D. is a research degree, and as such affords one the wherewithal to do research that is valuable to one’s field, People who are in the trenches are some of the best people to know what needs to be researched and to have the passion to do so. The average college professor may not have the same interests or insights as a 2nd grade teacher (to use your example). The people who have worked hard to move upward are not the ones you should be resenting. As for all the administrative degrees, that’s another matter. However, maybe some of those would make better decisions if they had a chance than we are witnessing.

  16. DSWparticipant says:

    @buzymamma. RIF = Reduction in Force (Force = the body of workers) = what is happening to too many DCSD employees, particularly support people, people working directly with students.

  17. mom/teacher/taxpayer says:

    I heard that she was at a professional conference. While this is better than hearing that she is on “vacation”, with the start of school just around the corner, I feel like that her priority should be straightening out this mess.

  18. Dekalbite2 says:

    That’s all those folk who do not teach but hold teaching certificates – like coaches, principals, APs, coordinators, Directors, etx.

    They are it on the teacher salary scale anyway so why would it be a problem?

  19. sick of dekalb says:

    RIF should stand for – Ruin Instruction Faster!!!!

  20. Dekalbite2 says:

    Should read:
    “They are not on the teacher salary scale anyway so why would it be a problem?”

  21. The Deal says:

    The most interesting part of the meeting was that Walker held a position that was in agreement with McChesney and Jester and held that position very strongly. I would like to be a fly on the wall when Atkinson receives word that Walker directed her to come up with another plan.

  22. Dekalbite2 says:

    I think too many of the friends and family were included in this plan to suit Walker – Edwards and Roberts children for example. Didn’t he also want to raise taxes to the maximum amount but only got to raise them 1 mill? Did Walker say he wanted to cut those millions in legal fees?

  23. justwatch says:

    I don’t think she will be surprised — he was against it last week as well. However, when she goes to cut other areas, then he will be bitterly unhappy.

  24. Cigi says:

    Today at 4 there is a meeting at AIC for staff that has been terminated. I am confused. People have already been told that they do not have jobs. A very good friend of mind left home to attend the meeting, Has staff been let go or not? Her principal was out of town on vacation. He was not aware until he got back into the state. No one from HR called her. She was home all of last week. She got no phone call, The letter was a big shock. It told her that it was not a reflection on her, but that she didn’t have a job and sent her a form to complete in case she wanted to draw her money out of TRS. This is not the way that people are to be treated. She has called HR more than once and cannot get a call returned. Mr. Pruitt hired her and he always called back and was very helpful. His job was one of the jobs eliminated.

  25. noduh1961 says:

    Miss Management, don’t you know??? The assignment was designed to build leadership and compromise skills?? Your son was supposed to learn how to delegate and lead others to work collaboratively. Isn’t that a high school English class is for in this day and age?? (clearly I’m being sarcastic. What does a parent say to a son who gets screwed like that???)

  26. concerned says:

    I think it is ridiculous that they did not know that increasing class size and restructuring P-K would cause the loss of teachers. If they did not know how money was being saved by the cut they should have asked for more information. They have approved the budget. What do they expect Dr. A. to do now? Is there a way to resolve this without affecting the schools. I doubt it.

  27. justwatch says:

    what area was she in?

  28. The Deal says:

    Nancy Jester was clear to remind everyone that Dr. Atkinson told them that the class size increase would NOT cause layoffs. The board didn’t make that up. Dr. Atkinson said it would be handled through retirements and attrition.

  29. dekalbschoolwatch says:


    Click to access annual-financial-report-for-fy2011.pdf

    Financial Highlights

    Key financial highlights for 2011 are as follows:
     In total, net assets increased $78.5 million to $1.300 billion. This represents a 6 percent
    increase from 2010. This total increase was due to governmental activities since the Board has
    no business-type activities.
     General revenues accounted for $560.4 million in revenue or 50.6 percent of all revenues.
    Program specific revenues in the form of charges for services and operating grants and
    contributions accounted for $547.7 million or 49.4 percent of total revenues of $1.108 billion.
     The Board had $1.029 billion in expenses related to governmental activities; $547.7 million of
    these expenses were offset by program specific charges for services, grants or contributions.
     Among major funds, the general fund has $1.009 billion in revenues and $979 million in
    expenditures. The general fund’s “Net Change in Fund Balances” increased by $30 million
    resulting in a change in the “Total Fund Balances” increased from $23 million to $53 million for
    the fiscal year. The fund balance reflects the full accrual of all contracted salaries and benefits
    unpaid at June 30 in full compliance with GASB 34 regulations.

  30. What's Next says:

    Well, I guess that’s how it works, right? The board, in previous years, approves an RIF (that isn’t really carried out), so when they vote down an RIF, it has already been carried out! *sigh*

  31. What's Next says:

    Sorry, this should have been posted as a reply to Cigi.

  32. Cigi says:

    Just Watch and What’s Next,

    She was a trained special education para educator. No the RIF was carried out before. I work with three people who got RIFF’d before, about two years ago. Two were paras and one was a clerk.

  33. Susan Curtis says:

    I totally agree, Teacher 747. I used cooperative, heterogeneous groups everyday, and I rarely had discipline problems, students off-task, and my scores were pretty good. Being able to use cooperative groups well is a matter of training, practice, and much thought.

  34. Dedicated Educator says:

    Tune in to channel 2 news at six. There will be a report by Richard belcher regarding some principals receiving $10,000.00 bonuses.

  35. DSWparticipant says:

    @Susan Curtis & Teacher747. How many Level 1 and 2 English proficiency ELLs did you have?

  36. just sad says:

    @just saying….what would you like explained? Why the President of a teacher organization is disappointed that the RIF failed to pass vote????

    That’s what I need explained. All of you educators that continue to pay into this hot mess of an organization please stop paying your dues. Please look into alternative ways to protect yourselves from any legal mattters you may need assistance with.

  37. Sickof It says:

    What is deceiving about the “increase” is that the Board stopped paying into our retirement, our insurance premiums went way up, and the cost of living far exceeded any remaining “raise”. Ask any DCSS teacher who has been in Dekalb for four years or more. We are now making far less than we did four years ago, and it keeps getting worse. I make $10,000 less now than I did in 2008. (And, please, don’t think my salary was one of those higher salaries. I’m a teacher and I’m neither FRIEND nor FAMILY.)

  38. Sickof It says:

    Am I correct that the majority of our BOE members have other jobs or businesses? If they really cared about what is best for the students, they could volunteer to work without salaries for a brief period of time. Of course, that will NEVER happen with our current BOE, but what a powerful statement it would make if done by a competent group of individuals whose concerns were in the right place.

  39. Mildred says:

    I’m sure one of these principals is the one at Towers. He was brought in from North Carolina. HE HAS NEVER BEEN A PRINCIPAL BEFORE.

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