DeKalb schools to go on state remedial budget plan to make up for $24 million shortfall

By Jeffry Scott
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The DeKalb County school board will have to work with the state to pay down a $24 million deficit left from the last school year, even as its current budget appears headed for another shortfall of almost the same size.

The school board knew this was coming, since by state law school district budgets must be balanced.

Scott Austensen, Georgia Education Department chief financial officer, told the board’s finance committee Friday that once the district submits its final financial figures from the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, the state will audit the numbers and set up a remedial budget plan that will require the board to detail how it will reduce the budget in monthly reports. The process could take a couple of years.

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24 Responses to DeKalb schools to go on state remedial budget plan to make up for $24 million shortfall

  1. DeKalb Observer says:

    Why, this is inconceivable. Because as Gene Walker and the superintendent have insisted, they have followed all appropriate procedures! And don’t we have every reason in the world to take their word for it? The complaints to SACS regarding financial mismanagement are the result of silly old Nancy Jester making too many requests for information! And grumpy parents casting unsubstantiated aspersions. It’s practically just a MISUNDERSTANDING! Just ask Mark Elgart. There aren’t good guys and bad guys, according to Elgart, or overt right and wrong. There are just board members who are too nosey and have the crazy notion that if electricity costs $20 million a year, that is what the line item in the budget should say. What a nutty idea. So gee, who’s surprised that it’s taken external oversight to point out that, um, DeKalb, you sorta haveta have a balanced budget and right now, you’re heading off a financial cliff. Not something the majority on our Board of those in the Central Office were able to discern for themselves.

  2. Terry says:

    SO….. the morons that run dekalb schools think… THINK they might not be able to make payroll this month??????? HAVE they (anyone up in Admin) CUT their pay yet??? Will SACS EVER step in?? How about the governor? (do I hear crickets?)

  3. Weary worker says:

    So if they don’t make payroll this means that DeKalb has not held up their end of the so called teacher contracts. Does this void the contracts? Does this mean teachers can choose in an organized way not to report to work since their contract and employment is void? If I recall forcing people to work against their will without pay has been illegal since 1865.

  4. concernedmom30329 says:

    Property tax revenues are coming in. I suspect DCSS will make payroll, the real question is what other bills aren’t being paid. The fact that the rumor is out there at all, is a testament to just how little faith anyone has in the system’s fiscal health.
    Since no other system in metro Atlanta is on this status with the state, we know that no other large system is in such dire fiscal shape. This is GA’s third largest system for heaven’s sake.

  5. Marney Mayo says:

    There was a $90million tax anticipation note approved by the board in June. Where is your credible source for the “can’t make payroll” comment?

  6. John Hope says:

    Marney, thanks for asking that question. I’ve seen and heard more rumors about that lately despite the fact the TAN that was approved. The first round of property taxes are due on October 1 which should bring more revenue to the county and schools.

    Hopefully all rumors that are mentioned here will provide a credible source. School employees can be distracted if they focus time and attention on rumors.

  7. Insider says:

    Would the last person left at DCSD please turn off the lights? (Assuming, of course, they haven’t been cut off for lack of payment.)

  8. Concerned DeKalb Mom says:

    Marney–is the $90 million TAN to be paid back as well? So is that included as part of the $24 million shortfall, or is that in addition to? I’m not entirely clear how the TAN is handled.

    And…anyone seen the calendar choices on the DCSS website yet? They are to be out for public review and comment starting today, but I haven’t seen them as of yet.

  9. Bye bye says:

    The TAN will be payed back with tax revenues from this year. Nothing to do with the 24 million deficit. DCSS could in theory borrow more if needed since there are 100s of millions in tax revenue that will be collected this year.

  10. Keep in mind that the BOE’s approval of increasing the millage rate, INSTEAD of immediately downsizing/rightsizing the bloated Palace staff and their bloated salaries, was in reality a vote FOR INCREASING the amount of “equalization” money that DeKalb sends to other counties, like Gwinnett County. Eliminating unnecessary and unqualified employees (Friends-and-Family, for example) and reducing the salaries of administrators who have presided over the worst downfall in student achievement in DCSS’s history would have made an immediate bottom-line difference — and those are dollars that don’t have to be shared with other counties

  11. Why the severe over-crowding? Yes, the school system was approved two years in a row to increase class sizes by two, however, some schools are experiencing ridiculous, untenable situations:

    For example – have you all read Joe Reed’s post in the “Patch”? Very uncomfortable crowing problems at Lakeside – despite the new, expanded facility … and Reed blames much of it on the fact that too many students are unable to graduate in four years…

    http://northdruidhills.patch.com/articles/lakeside-principal-budget-cuts-lead-to-cramped-classes

  12. Terry says:

    The “credible source of the can’t make payroll” comment came from a teacher on the inside…. one I trust. EVEN if this person is quoting a rumor, why have we still not seen any reduction in the administrative offices yet? WHY are cuts going to the teachers, media specialists (the clerks are GONE), technology, paraprofessionals, bus drivers and elsewhere? I could understand it if it were ACROSS the board cuts, but SOME positions were hit with pay cuts… blind-sided!! while the fat cats roll their eyes at everyone else and dare anyone to question them. It’s just plain ridiculous the way this board and superintendant are playing this game out on the backs of hard working employees. Demoralized. Cut down. Squashed. It is disgusting how this board of education treats it’s TAX paying citizens as well. And… where are the kids in all of this?

  13. dekalbmom says:

    The school system should not have problems making payroll because they have the $90,000,000 from the tax anticipation note. But this note must be repaid with interest by 12-28-12. I am extremely concerned about the overall health of the school system with $24M of budget overruns last year and at least $20 million of budget overruns this year, plus repayment of the TAN. In addition, the state wants the school system to rebuild its reserves that Gene Walker and his voting block spent.

    I am anxiously waiting for that list of 300+ positions that were “eliminated” from the central office (not transferred to the schools).

    We simply cannot afford luxuries like the Fernbank Science Center, busing students that is not legally required, small underutilized schools, travel for staff and Board members, new cars for executives, duplicative legal staffs and excessive central office workers who are not in the classroom,

  14. AnonMom says:

    me thinks this is because prior year’s budget cuts were not actually implemented — no one does any forensic audits — there is no more cash reserve. This has been a huge ponzi with much money having headed out the door with no checks and balances in place. No one is watching the hen house (well, maybe the wolves)……

  15. whoshelpingthekids says:

    Can’t speak to payroll but for the last few years the word among custodial staff is that they have been unable to obtain needed supplies from designated businesses because DCSS had not paid the bill yet.

  16. Northlake Mom says:

    Re: DSW’s post on severe overcrowding:
    I read that Grady HS in APS was having trouble with overcrowding this year too, and so APS is following up by investigating the validity of every affidavit and lease, and is threatening to prosecute anyone out-of-attendance area who doesn’t voluntarily remove their student before they are caught. I have heard anecdotal evidence from several different sources about parents enrolling kids through affidavit at Lakeside HS when they really belong in Tucker HS, and I’ve also heard about parents signing leases at apartments in the Lakeside district, but not really living there. APS puts some teeth into their enforcement in order to relieve overcrowding — does DCSD do anything to investigate affidavits and newly signed leases to make sure they are legitimate and the kids are really in the school where they belong?

  17. Northlake Mom says:

    Re: severe overcrowding, enforcement of attendance zones:
    Here’s the link to the story on Grady HS overcrowding:
    http://midtown.patch.com/articles/aps-to-investigate-possible-fraudulent-enrollment-at-grady

  18. PublicSchoolDad says:

    RE: “…investigating the validity of every affidavit…”
    I regularly pass by Kittredge during my morning run and over the past couple of weeks I’ve been taking note of the counties listed on the license plates of cars during morning drop-off. It’s a small sample, but my observations would suggest that 1 of every 5 cars is registered in a different county.

  19. Dekalbite2 says:

    @dekalbmom
    How about a 12 month $12,000,000 a year security force? APS utilizes outsourcing for their security force to keep the cost down. Why do we have 200+ security officers on duty during the summer months if not to inflate their salaries?

  20. dekalbmom says:

    @dekalbite2. Yup, security is another area that needs drastic cutting. It is probably one of the easier ones to outsource because there are many private security companies that would submit competitive bids.

  21. Why am I not surprised? says:

    They need to be careful with those anticipated tax revenues… the tax bill errors that they made a few months ago (it was written up in the AJC) still have not been worked out (our home was one of the errors, valuation was about a 75% above where it should be). In the meantime, they are collecting taxes on what they want, and say they will “reimburse” us if they’ve overcharged. It may take a while, but it will eventually roll back around… or the county will be facing more legal fees. So, some of the incoming tax dollars are likely to roll right back out again within the year.

  22. Dekalbite2 says:

    That’s true. 5 of my neighbors on one street saw an increase of over 70% in their assessments. They hired a lawyer and got it taken back to the old assessment. The assessments were all over the map this year.

  23. Yep. It certainly ‘looked’ like the county was trying to push the losses in south DeKalb on people in other areas of the county. There were hundreds of people whose assessments increased quite a bit in Dunwoody. In reality, houses are selling slowly there and at reduced prices (but at least they’re selling).
    http://www.thecrier.net/news/article_4c41c498-b6fd-11e1-9ed7-0019bb2963f4.html

    Plus, they added a tax for incorporation —
    http://www.thecrier.net/news/article_7ab2f590-d016-11e1-8c36-0019bb2963f4.html

  24. Kenrus says:

    Re: Budget shortfalls – How much does Dekalb pay for SFA?? Why is Jeff Dickerson the spokesperson for Dekalb? Why not use one of the people already on salary at the county office? I applaud the Chicago teachers and wish we had more options here in Georgia to say “enough is enough”!

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