Paul Womack states that our budget is balanced (as far as he’s aware)

According to a recent article in the AJC, District 4 board rep Paul Womack stated that we have a balanced budget, therefore he voted to approve Atkinson’s request for raises for several administrators. Since we have not seen a balanced budget, nor a final budget of any kind, this certainly piqued our interest. Especially considering that as far as we are aware, also according to the AJC, we continue to show a $24 million deficit as well as an additional projected deficit of nearly the same amount and were placed under the watch of a state agency.

Therefore, we submitted the following Open Records Request, asking Womack to provide documentation as to the balanced budget he referred to. If Womack has information refuting the claims of the state, we would like to know.  If not, perhaps he needs to do some research before voting to spend another dime of ‘vapor’ money.


September 25, 2012

Delivery by Certified E-mail [2012/9/25; 12:20 PM]

TO: H. Paul Womack, Jr.

District 4 Representative

Board of Education

DeKalb County School System

RE: DeKalb County School System Budgets for 2012-2013 and 2011-2012

“As far as I know, it’s [the budget is] balanced,” said Paul Womack, who voted for the raises Monday along with Jay Cunningham and Donna Edler.

“DeKalb board gives short notice on vote for school officials’ raises,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Monday, September 24, 2012

Mr. Womack:

Pursuant to Georgia Open Records Law (O.C.G.A. 50-18-70 et seq. (the “Law”), you are hereby requested to make available for review and copying all files, records and other documents in your possession and in the possession of DeKalb County School System that refer, reflect or relate to the the 2012-2013 and 2011-2012 DeKalb County Schools budget.

This request includes, but is not limited to, all documents, notes, correspondence and memoranda — electronic and paper — relating to your fiscal responsibilities and the budgets specified above, as a board member and as the chairperson of the Budget, Audit, Finance and Facilities Committee. The request also includes, but is not limited to, all communication and correspondence in whatever tangible medium between and among you, the other board members and the Superintendent of DeKalb County Schools relating to the budgets specified above and relating to your fiscal responsibilities as a board member and as the chairperson of the Budget, Audit, Finance and Facilities Committee. Finally, this request also includes, specifically, but is not limited to, all documents, notes, correspondence, communication and memoranda — electronic and paper — showing and detailing a balanced budget for DeKalb County Schools 2012-2013 and DeKalb County Schools 2011-2012.

If this request is denied in whole or in part, please cite in writing the specific statutory exemption upon which you have relied, as required by law. We also ask that you release all separate portions of otherwise exempt material. You have the authority to waive any costs associated with this request and, as taxpayers and volunteers, we request that you do so.

The Law requires a response from you or your designee within three business days of your receipt of this e-mail and provides sanctions for non-compliance. We look forward to hearing from you via e-mail:


DeKalb School Watch Editors

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44 Responses to Paul Womack states that our budget is balanced (as far as he’s aware)

  1. howdy1942 says:

    Adding an agenda item to raise four administrator’s salaries just four hours prior to a public meeting is shameful. All of this comes at a time when we are laying off people, forcing teachers to take unpaid days, and telling the public just bad the situation is.

    This is why the people have lost complete confidence in this Board and the administration. This is another example of Atkinson not doing the right thing and not being able to make the tough calls. I sincerely hope that SACS comes in and, whatever it does, it results in a complete house cleaning in Dekalb County by State Government.

    This is another example of why State-run charter schools are gaining popularity. The people are just sick and tired of this kind of poor administration by the School Board and the Superintendent. For one in Dekalb County, I want our parents and our children to have an option other than this school system as it is currently being run.

    As for Paul Womack, we in the 4th District voted him out. As of January, he won’t be there any more.

    On a final note, I have been critical of Walker and Copelin-Wood, but I thank them for voting against this pay raise. Shame on Cunningham, Edler, and Womack.

  2. educator90 says:

    Glad that Atkinson, and the board members who voted for this raise don’t do my household budget.

  3. alm says:

    I hope you sent a copy by snail mail. I’m not sure he looks at email.

  4. concernedmom30329 says:

    What will it take for someone to hold this system accountable.

    The DeKalb County school system spent more than $3 million on legal fees last school year and is expected to spend twice that amount this year, according to a DeKalb County grand jury report.

    The information was attributed to Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson, who has met with successive grand juries as part of an agreement with District Attorney Robert James.

    The report for July-August session, like prior grand juries, calls for the empaneling of a special grand jury to investigate school system finances, including legal fees. Atkinson reportedly told the panel that the projected legal costs for this year will exceed the budgeted amount.

  5. GTCO-ATL says:

    The salary increase story will also be covered in more detail on the 6 p.m. news tonight, Channel 2 Action News, NBC/WXIA (Paul Crawley, reporter). Does anyone know who the four employees were that received the increases and how much was approved?

  6. The AJC article about the deficit, [ ] states:

    This year’s budget is about $80 million less than last year’s, but it’s on track to be about $20 million over budget, thereby ringing up another deficit if the board doesn’t make cuts. In July the board rejected one plan to reduce the budget by laying off about 250 teachers.

    Did Womack for for or against RIFing more teachers in order to save money? He certainly voted to RIF low level employees every other time it was placed on the table. How can he now vote to increase pay for ‘some’? Ron Ramsey is another person who was granted a big raise. And Ramona Tyson continues to cost the system bags and bags of money. Is she worth the price of FOUR teachers?

    Read our old post on the embarrassingly incompetent meetings that took place to discuss further cuts. As far as we know, no further cuts were ever made, so how can the budget suddenly be balanced?

  7. Chloe says:

    This infuriates me! On the news, the DCSD stated it is not a raise but for more work these administrators are being asked to do. Are you kidding me!? What about all the teachers who are being asked to have more students in the classroom, do all the testing for the new SLO’s , and take a pay cut, pay for all their health insurance and no contributions to their TSA’s and no contribution to social security?! When is this going to end!?

  8. Hold the “system” accountable? No. Not the system. Individuals must be held accountable — beginning with the superintendent and her partner in crime, the former interim superintendent, who have continued the corruption. Then there are the board members who have colluded to do everything the superintendent wants. Let’s put a face on those who are masterminding and failing to end the RICO crimes: Ramona Tyson; Cheryl Atkinson; Atkinson’s direct reports; Gene Walker and the Gang of Five. Who else? Let’s put a face on greed: Ron Ramsey, Dan Drake and his cohorts who got raises under the radar yesterday. It’s not “the system”. It’s the people — the corrupt and greedy people.

  9. Tax waste says:

    Atkinson gets a new car and her cabinet gets a pay raise while I take a pay cut.I get the feeling they only care about themselves.

  10. No. We sent a copy by e-mail, which is a legally approved method of making an Open Records Request. Womack is a paid employee of the school system and the school system provides him with an e-mail address. It is up to Womack to check his e-mail regularly and follow the law. An inability to move into the 21st Century and ignorance of the law is no defense.

  11. same ole same ole says:

    When will this all end? We have allowed these people to screw up our system. I am praying that we be placed on “Watch” by SACS so that the governor can take action and remove the board, with Gene Walker being the first to be shown the door.

  12. This seems to have gotten caught in a filter. I’m reformatting it so maybe it’ll post.

    I couldn’t find a link to the WSB story on the sneaky raises, but I found two others: One horrible and another of the typical “what-did-you-expect-when-incompetent-corrupt-leaders-run-your-school-district?” Dekalb fails:

  13. Go with that feeling, Tax waste. Not only do Elgart, Tyson, Atkinson, March, Howe, Perrone, Drake, Wilkins, Ramsey, Walker and the rest of The Gang of Five care only about themselves — they don’t care at all what you or anyone else thinks about them. Like those who have gone before them, they have determined that they can get away with this scam and they are going to keep on doing it while the gettin’s good.

  14. But District Attorney James said DCSD could police themselves… Riiiiiiiiiiight!

  15. teacher/taxpayer says:

    This goes back to the Board Meeting that was convened in late July just before the election. At that meeting which I attended, Womack said he could not vote to approve the agenda item to create the positions (really rename existing positions) because of the new salaries and the upcoming run-off election (read: I won’t get elected if I vote for spending money today).
    He proposed approving the new titles but delaying the pay raises until after the election. That motion was approved. This approval is the follow-up to that.
    And yes, Atkinson said that day that the increased salary was due to increased responsibility. Interestingly, during the vote Copelin-Wood interrupted with questions, and after the motion was passed approving all the positions, Walker seemed to think they were going on to look at the positions individually. (One of his constituents had asked him to look into the qualifications of one of the people whose job was being approved.)

  16. whoshelpingthekids says:

    last time I checked, everyone at the schoolhouse is being told to take on more responsibilities and NONE of them are getting raises! Why do Central Office staff who do not directly impact students get raises?

  17. Just another day in Paradise says:

    The Executive Director for Federal Programs is doing nothing more than the duties & responsibilities detailed in the job posting for Director for Federal Programs that she applied for and was hired for. That’s documented. The Executive Director for School Nutrition took on no more responsibility than she had last year. We don’t have any more schools and enrollment is not growing. The Executive Director for Transportation and Facilities/Planning is so far in over his head that he should be paying money BACK to the district. Just look at Channel 2 for today’s report on our bus delays. The Executive Director for Facilities Management is doing what he did last year, but with a new title. All of these people are part of the “chosen few” and are being given pay bumps. The only surprise is that none of them are recent transplants from North Carolina.

    Atkinson pulled her typical stunt and called a last minute meeting, threw something on the agenda without time for review, and rushed it through. If anything is going to bring this board to its knees with SACS, it is how she plays them and gets them to green-light her antics. They can’t call her on it because then they’re messing with day-to-day operations, but they’re held accountable for the chaos she’s causing. It’s a double-edged sword.

    In the meantime, four more of her people received raises, but qualified ex-employees who were forced out are still looking for employment. I spoke to one tonight. She’s almost considering applying to DCSD again — that’s how desperate she is.

  18. Teachingmom says:

    We have not been given our step increases in YEARS. We are being asked to take on more and more with less and less and with administrators pacing the halls to make sure we follow all of the new responsibilities for which we are being paid LESS.

  19. formerdekalbparent says:

    What about all the employees that are doing twice or more of the work due to layoffs, no step increases in years, and don’t even get me started on TSA…….

  20. Dr Lewis did the same thing, except he promoted friends to Executive Director OVER the Directors who were already in place. He got away with it. There are no repercussions for these kinds of actions. We depend on our leaders to have integrity. Integrity is the cornerstone of good decision-making and fiscal responsibility. Otherwise, we have actions that while lacking in integrity and damage the teacher morale as it takes resources from the classroom, is not illegal. Nor does it effect accreditation. Nor does it bother our auditors. This is the problem. There is just nothing exactly legally ‘wrong’ with these kinds of decisions.

    BTW, it seems ‘big bad’ SACS is now writing threatening letters to Clayton County again –

    The article states, “Clayton is the second metro Atlanta school district to draw SACS scrutiny this month. A SACS team will visit DeKalb County Schools next week to investigate how its board operates after complaints the board was interfering with administrative functions.”

    So, yes, it appears that SACS is not really responding to the several dozen complaints from community reps and parents over the last 5 years, they are actually responding to complaints from inside the administration.

  21. Oh, but they do, Educator90. Do you pay property tax in DeKalb County? Do you shop in DeKalb County and pay sales tax? Do you pay state and federal income tax? The tentacles of Ramsey, Atkinson and her minions, Walker and the Gang of Five — the tentacles of evil and greed — are wrapped around your household budget. Every time taxes are raised — and that includes continuing SPLOST — your household budget takes another hit — and your family must live on less, make do with less.

  22. GTCO-ATL says:

    Here’s the story:

    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Just a few months ago, DeKalb County’s School Board was cutting millions from its budget and eliminating jobs.

    Now some are wondering how they can approve raises for 4 top school administrators, especially with very little public notice.

    “We didn’t even have a full board to even vote on the decision to give those particular people raises,” DeKalb County parent Cheryl Miller told 11Alive News.

    The community school activist accuses the school system of pulling a fast one.

    They only gave a few hours notice that the salary hikes would be on the agenda for a Monday meeting attended by only five of nine board members.

    At the request of new Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson, the board voted 3-to-2 to give higher salaries to four of her top administrators, ranging from $3,400 to $4,000 a year more.

    “If anything, I think all the administrators, especially the top tier of the administration, should be taking pay cuts,” parent Miller told 11Alive on Tuesday.

    Board Chairman Eugene Walker was one of the two who voted ‘no’, saying the school system was supposed to be in an austerity mode.

    A spokesman for the school system defended the higher salaries, not as raises, but as money those administrators deserve for being given more important jobs with added responsibility.

    “If you go out, you get a new job, you should get paid commensurate with that job and with the responsibility and authority with that job,” said system spokesman Jeff Dickerson.

    As for why so little advance notice was given of the action, the system said the board had given the new superintendent until the end of September to handle the pay increases and she realized she had to do it this week.

  23. Frustrated Dekalb Parent says:

    I believe Dr. Atkinson should be given a written performance evaluation from the Board once a fiscal year per her contract. Does anyone know if this has been done and if not, when it will be? Also, will this be accessible to the public? This evaluation as I understand it will be based on pre-detemined goals and objectives. Does anyone know what these are? If I am reading the right version of her contract, she can be terminated for cause but it does not say what vote is required unlike the termination for convience that requires 3/4 of the Board.

  24. Mad Dad says:

    Has anyone heard anything about retired teachers getting special help with selling their homes? We have seen the homes of three teachers sell in my neighborhood, which does not normally have high turnover of homes like this, without so much as even placing a sign in their front yard. There are other homes that have been on the market for months and haven’t sold, yet these were such hot commodities that they sold without any advertising?? Something just does not seem right about that. No goodbye to neighbors, either. Rumors are circulating in the neighborhood about why they left or who is moving in, but no one is making the connection between the speed of the sales and the former occupation of the former homeowners. These are retired families who own their homes outright, so it is not a foreclosure situation or short sale. And, it is not family that is moving in, so it cannot be a situation where they passing the home to children. Any thoughts?

  25. Dr. DeKalb says:

    Here is the original discussion about the people whom Atkinson wanted to give the higher titles and pay raises. The Director of Federal Programs, we were discussing, may be getting some “merit pay” in order to ensure loyalty if the feds are investigating misuse of Race to the Top funds. The others may have just been same level employees who were being offered same change in title and pay in order to disguise the fact that it was really a payoff.

    So, they take a confusing vote in July in order to figure out how the board feels on the subject, then postpones it to September at which time it is added hastily to the agenda so that the board members who were NOT in favor would have a lower chance of attending the meeting. That means Jester, McChesney, Speaks and Bowen. So those who WERE in favor could split the vote and not appear to be working together. Womack, Cunningham and Edler in favor; Walker and Copeland-Woods opposed.

    So, Womack who was so angry at the administration in July (because he was in re-election campaign mode) that he was demanding the state look into his claims that the system employees had failed to make the budget cuts that were called for while he was the Chariman of the Budget Committee, has come full circle??? It’s only September and he now thinks it is okay for these same people to get raises, paid for by taxpayers, while teachers, para pros and others lose their jobs completely???

  26. Send us the addresses of these homes, please. Send the addresses to the DSW e-mail:

  27. from the AJC

    The DeKalb County schools superintendent is scheduled to give a state of the district address Thursday evening at Arabia Mountain High School.

    Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson will speak to parents from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the event, hosted by the South DeKalb Parent Council.

    Arabia Mountain High is at 6610 Browns Mill Rd., south of downtown Lithonia. Atkinson has been talking to parents at high schools across the county about her first year as superintendent.

  28. Teacher says:

    DSW, please do a post about the Student Learning Outcomes tests that are extremely time-consuming and are supposed to evaluate teachers based on students’ scores. Teachers at Chamblee have written letter protesting it. The AJC has published it here:

  29. Screwed Teacher says:

    Those teachers are heroes as far as I am concerned.

    We gave ours at my HS today and it was a joke. 25 Short Answer/Essay response questions and 50 minutes to complete them. Thats a tall order even for this teacher. I doubt I could do it and be able to put together a complete thought. Also they (DCSD) are getting subs to watch our classes so we can grade them. How novel! More time away from the kids to manage eduCRATS business.

  30. whoshelpingthekids says:

    Atkinson didn’t speak that long at ELPC. It started at 9:15 with housekeeping details and election of officers. (Orson won’t step down until November – seems inappropriate.) Atkinson started about 9:30 and Orson closed up questions at 10:30 and she was out of there.

  31. educator90 says:

    Not sure why teachers opposed things that they can see where they are not cutting the mustard and see areas where they can improve. I know that when I was forced to look at my student data, I quickly saw areas that I needed to improve. The time was not wasted and made me a better teacher, because I knew where I was doing a good job and where I needed to improve.

    I will never understand teachers not wanting to know how they can improve. Would you want a doctor who didn’t want to improve? I know that my lawyer friends use transcripts from trials to better the job they do in the court room and that these are part of bonuses that they receive. I don’t know anyone who takes pride in their work, that doesn’t want to know how they can get better. Teachers can’t be called professionals, if they don’t want to be treated one.

  32. Nikole says:

    @ educator 90— A 10 question test is totally invalid as a means of assessing an entire school year worth of learning. I do my own pre and post test with every unit and it yields meaningful data for me. These SLOs are crap.

  33. @Educator90

    Have you any experience with the SLOs in Dekalb? The data from these tests is meaningless.

  34. teacherwantingachange says:


    This teacher is not opposed to using student data or trying to improve. Unfortunately, though, these SLOs( what a name!) help with neither. And they are impractical.

    Some teachers need to print (yes, print-not photocopy) as many as 12 pages of answer sheets for every student. So if a teacher has large classes (and most of us do), a teacher may need to print as many as 2,000+ sheets (37 students in 5 classes X 12 sheets). How much time and money does that cost? Unlike the benchmarks, these assessments can’t be taken on the computer (can’t tell whether that’s as much the state’s fault as it is the county’s).

    Now consider how long it takes to score up to 10 short answer questions (in addition to the multiple choice questions) for 185 students-or even 150 students. The county has not organized any scoring times when the “leaders” would come in and work with students so teachers could have time to score these.Nor has the county arranged for its leaders to score these (something that might make these assessments legitimate indicators). And realize that these pre-tests do not count as grades, so teachers will still need their planning times to actually plan lessons and grade real assignments.

    Some of the tests are even reported to have errrors.

    I don’t think the outcome will have anything to do with students learning.

  35. Concerned DeKalb Mom says:

    Educator 90–to add to the fray…Kindergarten and 1st grade SLO’s must be given in a 1 on 1 basis. That amounts to anywhere from 1 to 2 hours PER CHILD, which eats up a tremendous amount of time–do the quick math on a class of 25 kindergarteners or 1st grade, and there are many, many classes in DeKalb that large at that age. My kindergarten student lost a FULL WEEK of instructional time with the teacher, only for the teacher to be told at the end of the week that the county wouldn’t be using the SLO data after all, the GKIDS would be fine.

    SLO’s were distributed around Week #6, after many schools had already conducted their own pre-assessment evaluations, right before benchmarks and standardized testing for 1st grade. Consider the week or two it takes for 1st grades to go through the SLO’s, then the week it takes to do computerized benchmarks, then the 2 weeks it takes to go through ITBS and CogAT. Really, is this all worth it for teacher evaluations? WHO IS TEACHING THE KIDS??

    And I don’t fault the teachers, to be clear…this decision was not a schoolhouse based decision. Somewhere in the central office is the decision-maker for these SOL’s. And that person needs to be held accountable for our students’ loss of instructional time.

  36. Dedicated Dekalb Teacher says:

    I’m angry about the new benchmarks that were purchased from Pearson for us to give at the 8 and 16 weeks. I wrote my own pre-test for my subject, following the GPS to make sure that every standard was covered. I gave it the FIRST WEEK OF THE SEMESTER so that I could evaluate my students, and see where I needed to go with the curriculum. My entire grade level used the pre-test for our subject. I would love to know how much money was given to the publishers for giving us a new test… when a bright, dedicated team of teachers can easily write benchmarks on their own. You can trust me to teach the curriculum, but you can’t trust me to evaluate it properly? Really?

    Even funnier, they ARE required to be given on the computer, so the computer labs are going to be booked solid for those weeks. I am sure glad that I wasn’t planning a technology-based lesson that week. Let’s pray the servers don’t go down…

  37. DeKalb Schools to Spend Millions in Legal Fees

    The district’s legal fees will rise this year from last year’s figure of $3 million. Former Superintendent Crawford Lewis and another district executive are facing criminal charges to insider dealing and corruption.

    Dekalb schools racked up $3 million on legal fees last year and could spend $6 million this year, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    The newspaper pulled the information from a DeKalb County grand jury report convened in August and September, which attributed the figures to Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson.

    The school system entered the school year in a financial hole. An $85-million budget deficit was covered this school year by a tax increase and big cuts.

  38. fallenstar says:

    It’s not a raise, just compensation for additionald duties?!?!?! Where is teachers’ compensation for additional duties? Their pay has only been decreasing, while performing extra duties.
    If you go out and get a new job you expect pay commensurate with that job? Is this a “new job” for them, or are they in the same job? Even if it the same job with ‘addtional duties’ they can suck it up like the teachers, paras, bus drivers, custodians, etc, have had to. Well, a good reason for DeKalb teachers to go get a “new job” with commensurate pay — in another district.
    But they’ll get away with it, and probably also the PhD program scandal, and more, because at the end of the day there is nothing we can do about it. They just wait out the outcry, the news, everybody talking about it without taking action (because there is no real action we can take) and it blows over and they have gotten their way in the end.

  39. Ijustworkhere says:

    @educator90…I hope you are a troll and just attempting to stir the pot. Teachers are not afraid of data that can show areas that may need improvement. On the same side of the coin, who is evaluating the Central Office Personnel? Where can we find data on their deficits and areas that needs improving?

  40. lashundaj says:

    I am so freaking feed up with DCSS and all the cow chips they keep shoveling out. People haven’t had raise in what will be seven yrs this Jan. When are the people doing the work going to get a brake. Updating my resume ASAP.

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