Atkinson’s New Tricked-out SUV and Associated Costs: Much Ado About Nothing?

“Much ado about nothing,” said Paul Womack, dismissively. Really, Paul? Really? Much ado about nothing? Several of us drive 2008 or older cars and will continue to do so. Individually, several of us paid property taxes in 2011 and again in 2012 that nearly equal the cash outlay for Atkinson’s new tricked-out SUV. We bet that there are many more DSW readers in the same situation. Yet, Paul Womack claims that concerns about buying a fancy new, gas-guzzling SUV when DCSS is millions of dollars in the hole is “much ado about nothing.”

DSW2 discovered that Dr. Atkinson was recently upgraded from a 2008 Ford Explorer [not 2006 as stated by Womack] to a 2013 Ford Explorer. Atkinson’s original signed contract called for a car allowance which she asked the board to change so that the system provided the car and all related expenses. Jerry Carnes of 11Alive has the story. Click on the tiny television screen above.

Here’s the transcript — thanks to one of our readers:

“DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A school district facing serious financial problems has purchased its superintendent a brand new vehicle, and there’s also the DeKalb school employee who occasionally serves as Cheryl Atkinson’s personal driver.

Dekalb County schools recently laid-off over 100 employees as the district wrestles with a budget shortfall that still stands at $24 million.

Dekalb school board member Paul Womack said buying the superintendent a new car was a good investment.

“While I appreciate people inquiring, it’s much ado about nothing,” said Womack.

11Alive began asking questions after calls from people concerned about the school district’s budget situation.

Documents obtained by the group Dekalb School Watch show the district recently bought Atkinson a 2013 Ford Explorer. A district spokesperson says it’s part of Atkinson’s contract that she receives a carfor business and personal use.

The head of the Georgia Federation of Teachers says a new car and employee to occasionally serve as driver sounds like unnecessary luxuries in serious financial times.

“If we could afford it, wonderful,” said Verdaillia Turner. “We do feel a driver is more than luxurious. It’s going overboard. We don’t see that it’s necessary.

According to Womack, Atkinson was initially given a 2006 Ford that was in need of repairs.

The school system traded that and two other vehicles for the 2013 Explorer. According to documents, the value of the three vehicles was $23,500, so after the trade in taxpayers forked out an additional $8,963 in cash for the Explorer.

The resource officer who occasionally serves as Atkinson’s driver is a fulltime salaried employee who was hired to provide security at the district office. The district’s spokesperson insists it does not cost taxpayers any extra when the officer travels with the superintendent.

“She doesn’t use this guy very often,” said Womack. “She has to go from meeting to meeting to meeting outside and if she doesn’t know where she’s going or how she’s getting there, it’s better to have someone driving her.”

Taxpayers funded both a car and driver when Beverly Hall was superintendent of Atlanta city schools. According to the district, Hall’s successor, Erroll Davis, has neither.

Gwinnett school superintendent Alvin Wilbanks drives his own personal car, but does get a $1,500 a month car allowance.

Efforts to reach Atkinson were unsuccessful.”

+++

As the late Paul Harvey used to say, “Here is the rest of the story.”

As soon as the “Check Engine” light came on in her 2008 Ford Explorer, Atkinson wanted a new car.  Apparently a 2008 car did not fit with Atkinson’s image of herself, even though the previously white car was painted black (date unknown) and the windows were tinted.

The contract with DeKalb County Schools that Atkinson signed provided a stipend for a car.  After signing the contract in Q3 of 2011, Atkinson reversed field and asked for DCSS to provide a car instead.  As far as we can tell no one ran the numbers to see what was best for DeKalb County Schools.  The board just caved to Atkinson’s insistence.  Atkinson was provided with a 2008 Ford Explorer.

On August 17, 2012, CFO Perrone approved a request from Toney Blackmon and transferred $31, 192.15 from 101-61-92-00-000101-710-1320 to 101-61-92-00-000101-719-1320 to pay for a new car for Atkinson, even though Atkinson’s request for a new car was 14 days away from being presented to and approved by the board.

On August 27, 2012 Atkinson’s Ford Explorer was given a trade-in value by Wade Ford (Fulton County) of $15,000. Atkinson’s request for a new car still had not been publicly presented to the board.  Handled behind closed doors?  We can only speculate.

Yet another called meeting was held at 10 AM on August 31, 2012.  Getting Atkinson a brand new car was on the 3-item agenda — although it was not listed as such.  Here’s the very, very vague wording:

“Request for Declaration of Surplus Property”

Policy DO requires that any single item of school property valued in excess of $5,000.00 (five thousand dollars), personal or real, including, but not limited to, land, buildings, equipment or motorized vehicles, shall be declared surplus after approval by the DeKalb County Board of Education.  Any single item of school property valued as surplus at less than $5,000 (five  thousand dollars) does not require Board approval to be declared surplus.  School property shall be submitted to the Board, for its approval as surplus, when it is not needed for school purposes, when it is obsolete, or when the cost of maintenance is excessive.” 

“Following this policy requirement, the Division of Operations requests Board approval to declare as surplus property, vehicle #75A (VIN#1FMEU64E78UA66614), which has a trade-in value of $15,000.00.”

 
“Financial Impact”
“There is no financial impact to the General Fund.”

No financial impact to the “General Fund”?  Unless Wade Ford is willing to take boxtops for Atkinson’s 2013 tricked-out Ford Explorer, any money spent from the “General Fund” or any other fund is money that is not being used in the classroom for the benefit of students.   Of course there is financial impact, but not the good kind — not the kind that benefits students.

We hardly think a “check engine” light is an urgent reason for a Called Meeting, held at a time (10 AM) when most taxpayers and other stakeholders cannot attend.  But, it is clear that the decision to buy a new car for Atkinson was already made and just waiting for any excuse.

Ultimately 3 cars were traded in plus $8,963 cash to buy Atkinson a tricked-out new 2013 Ford Explorer (can you spell “gas hog”?).  And now, there is yet another semi-hidden request before the board to buy additional cars. To replace those cars traded-in for Atkinson’s car?  And, what happened to the rest of the $31,192 transferred by CFO Perrone to pay for Atkinson’s tricked-out new 2013 Ford Explorer.  $22,229 gone.  Gone.  Disappeared into thin air — like so much of DCSS’s money.

Atkinson’s SUV was NOT purchased from a dealer in DeKalb County.  Atkinson’s new SUV did NOT receive a fleet discount.  Atkinson’s new SUV has a luxury package including leather seats (plus a powerfold 3rd seat), a power liftgate, a power tilt/tele heated steering wheel and a voice-activated navigation system.  The purchase of Atkinson’s new SUV was NOT bid out to ensure getting the best price.

+++

UPDATE

Take a look at the updated (and annotated by DSW) documents provided to DSW with regard to Atkinson’s SUV. Particularly, look at the number of times Atkinson’s SUV was filled up 3, 4, 5 days in succession … look at the times Atkinson’s SUV was in for multi-day service, yet the SUV was still filled up once or twice during that time period … look at the fact that the color of the SUV was referred to as “white” throughout all service records, but was “black” when traded in. And the windshield was recently tinted.

Speaking of vehicles — the General Obligation bonds (which Atkinson had assured us would not be incurred) are also to pay for an undisclosed number of vehicles. Yet, information about the vehicles that DCSS owns and assigns to employees is one of the two items that Atkinson is desperate to keep hidden.  DSW asked, via an Open Records Request, for information on the fleet vehicles (not including school buses) that DCSS owns. Essentially, we wanted to see, at a minimum, a print-out for each vehicle like the one provided for the superintendent’s 2008 SUV.

DSW was told “it will take at least Twenty-five business days to produce these records and cost at least $4,500.00 (120 hours x $25 per hour; and 15,000 pages x $0.10 per page) to locate, retrieve, and, if necessary, redact these records before they can be disclosed”   “… the School District will defer search and retrieval of the requested records until you agree to pay the estimated cost of $4,500.00.”

Ignoring the fact that DCSS’s math is all wrong — unless, of course, Palace employees work less than 5 hours a day, which we have long suspected — why is it that Atkinson and her minions cannot simply provide a list of vehicles and to whom they are assigned, along with a document for each vehicle similar to the one (clearly computer generated) provided for Atkinson’s 2008 SUV? An operation so loose that there is no record of fleet vehicles owned, no record of who is assigned a fleet vehicle, no record of gas usage for each fleet vehicle MUST be tightened immediately and should NOT be allowed to borrow money to purchase any additional vehicles.

BTW — you won’t be surprised to find that Paul “She-Doesn’t-Use-This-Guy-Very-Often” Womack is wrong.  Of the 108 gas fill-ups between 9/14/2011 and 8/29/2012, “This Guy” (Atkinson’s security guard/driver) filled up Atkinson’s SUV 65 times.

+++

Hot under the collar yet at Atkinson living high on your hog?  You will definitely want to take a look at annotated (by DSW) response (to an Open Records Request) documents posted recently — also involving Atkinson’s new SUV and her 2008 SUV.  It’s a must read:

Who’s On First?

+++

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This entry was posted in Co-conspirators, DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, Fraud & Corruption, Friends-and-Family, Open Records Requests, Paul Womack, Superintendent Cheryl Howell Atkinson, Uncategorized, Workplace Abusers, Workplace Bullies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to Atkinson’s New Tricked-out SUV and Associated Costs: Much Ado About Nothing?

  1. concernforthekids says:
  2. NOTICE OF DEKALB BOARD OF EDUCATION BUSINESS MEETING

    The DeKalb Board of Education will hold a business meeting at 6:00pm, Monday, October 8, 2012, in the J. David Williamson Board Room in the Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center at the DeKalb County School System’s Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial
    Boulevard, Stone Mountain.

  3. Mad Dad says:

    What about the request for two vehicles to be included under the Technology request for SPLOST IV spending? What are those for? And how many IPad / tablets does $60 million buy? And where is the Oversight Committee?

  4. no name says:

    The 11 Alive article includes this explanation:

    “According to Womack, Atkinson was initially given a 2006 Ford that was in need of repairs.
    The school system traded that and two other vehicles for the 2013 Explorer. According to documents, the value of the three vehicles was $23,500, so after the trade in taxpayers forked out $8,963 for the Explorer. ”

    In short, DCSS spent $32,193 on a new 2013 Ford Explorer instead of repairing a 2006 Explorer…. which prompts two questions:
    (1) How much did Atkinson, Womack and/or DCSS claim they saved by laying off mechanics?
    (2) How much is it going to cost to replace the other two vehicles that were traded in?

  5. @no name: Womack is mistaken. The vehicle Atkinson had was a 2008 Explorer. There were two additional vehicles also traded in on this deal. One of those was a 2006.

  6. whoshelpingthekids says:

    The likelihood of a 2008 and a 2006 needing repairs in excess of $32,000 is slim to none if no wrecks were involved and if it cost more, I would want to know what in the world they were doing when driving the car that caused so much damage. If you are short on money in your home, you would make only absolutely necessary repairs to allow the car to run safely and patchwork your car together until times were more lucrative – you wouldn’t fork out $32,000 when $8-10,000 or less would fix your problem.

  7. Tit For Tat says:

    Womack states that Atkinson needs a personal driver because she needs to go from meeting to meeting to meeting and may not know the way. REALLY!….let her do what the rest of us “peons” do …figure it out…what is she The Grand Duchess of Dekalb County?

  8. Just another day in Paradise says:

    And why does she need an Explorer? Why not a simple 4-door vehicle? Is the superintendent toting cargo around? It’s not like she’s tossing additional passengers into the way-back. If the vehicle is too big for her to drive on her own, they should have gotten her a smaller car. I’m not one to say much that’s positive about Lewis, but even HE drove a simple sedan (even if he did fill it — and many other cars — with gas every other day). It was Pat Pope that drove the Explorer from construction site to construction site. The board should be embarrassed…and that $32,000 should be taken out of their salaries.

  9. Ned says:

    If the vehicle has a voice-activated navigation system, how do we explain Womack saying this “if she doesn’t know where she’s going or how she’s getting there, it’s better to have someone driving her.”?

  10. Disgusted in Dekalb says:

    whoshelpingthekids, you make a very good point. If the decision were being made by a household with a tight budget, the family in question would have chosen to repair the 2008 vehicle rather than to purchase a brand new one. But Atkinson doesn’t have the same constraints that the average strapped Dekalb household does—she has a seemingly endless supply of OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY.

  11. teacher/taxpayer says:

    It is only early October and teachers are fed up, frustrated, and disgusted. But she needs to be able to sit in the backof her car and have the quiet time to read proposals for even more ways to make teachers crazy. On this 3 day weekend, I will be spending my unpaid day catching up on all my incomplete administrative requirements related to Race to the Bottom. She will likely be resting up so she can approve another assault on our sanity.

  12. tracy white says:

    What’s wrong with a new car and not driving one that’s 7 years old and wants service? An Explorer is a reasonable vehicle. Good Grief! You act like she got an Escalade or a HumVee, or a Cayenne.

    As for a driver, sometime’s it’s better use of CEO time to text or work on documents instead of staring at tail lights. Lighten up on this one, folks, and find some area that really needs improvement. This was NOT worth the whining y’all are doing about it. Were the two other cars that were traded in replaced?

    Hey, my daughter sells cars and I can get the County a fleet discount! Maybe the issue here should be that the County did not shop around and paid too much for a new car, rather than one was bought.

  13. gr says:

    So let me get this right….you all are in tizzy because your superintendent got a $9000 car that the district owns and the guy in Gwinnett gets $18,000 each year for a car that he owns….Hmmm…so five years from now your super has spent only $9000 but Gwinnett pays $90,000. Sounds like you got a bargain to keep your chief executive in a safe car that’s respectable. Get real.

  14. whoshelpingthekids says:

    @ Tracy White: a 2008 is 4 years old and certainly doesn’t need replacing and if she was going to have a driver, then we shouldn’t have paid $2600 for the luxury package which includes the voice activated navigation system…a driver or the system, not both! The point is with the budget in crisis, cuts at the schoolhouse, larger class sizes, loss of interpreters, etc., we shouldn’t be spending ANY extra funds for ANYTHING!! She of all staff should be showing restraint, acting humbly, setting a frugal example for all.

  15. concernedmom30329 says:

    GR– That 18000 includes gas and maintenance. DCSS is paying for that on this car as well. The driver doesn’t bother me, as she is constantly coming and going. I just wonder why Atkinson doesn’t realize how bad this looks and think twice before asking for such a purchase. It seems less than sensitive and certainly not well advised.

    My car is ten years old and I will drive it into the ground. Go read The Millionaire Next Door and what he says about car purchases. The wealthiest Americans drive their cars a long time.

  16. 2centsOnDCSD'sFundingSup'sNewCar says:

    @gr “Get real.”

    Don’t know who you are, but what is real is that teachers’ salaries in Dekalb have dropped so they are equivalent to what they were 5 years ago, our colleagues have been RIFed (meaning their positions have been eliminated or names changed to allow the district to let them go as a money saving measure. Valuable paras & interpreters have been let go, so kindergarten teachers have 26 students with no para. All classes are larger than previously allowed. The district is beyond bankrupt. Contributions to our retirement funds have stopped, etc. We don’t have paper towels or soap in the schools much of the time because of lack of money and or the trucks the district owns cannot be driven because truck drivers have been let go to save money. Bus drivers are concerned about the safety of children because the buses are not being kept up because mechanics have been let go. Further, they are having to pile 100 students on buses designed for 60 because the number of buses has been reduced. Teachers and librarians and library clerk have been let go. People in Human Resources have been let go, so people leaving cannot get any answers when they call the district office. There has been corruption, scandal and financial mis-management at the top for years while friends and family of those at the top are placed in jobs fr which they are not necessarily qualified or given perks the district cannot afford, such as 8 administrators having their Ph.D.s funded ($45,000 per person x 8), 4 top administrators recently got raises, and now the superintendent–who asked for a raise–updates her car for a more current one. The people who work the closest with students are the ones most affected while those at the top hang on to their high salaries.

    In such a climate, what is real is not how this superintendent compares with Gwinnett or any orther place but what is relevant to what is going on in her own district. SACS is coming in soon, and it sounds as if the trend is either, “I just dare you to object,” or the oblivion to right and wrong is so great that there is no hope for appropriate decision making.

  17. Completely agree Tracy. “Sometimes” it’s appropriate to have a driver. For instance, if it’s a day where the super has back to back appointments around the county, then it’s a good idea to try to get some work done and have someone else drive. However, the super should be spending ‘quality’ time in the office and people should come there to meet with her, thus not needing a driver on most days. There should be a balance, and there probably is. The driver, we are told, is also a security guard at the palace and has a salary of $55,307.42 plus benefits. Does anyone think that a bus driver (average salary of about $15-18,000) could easily be tapped to do the driving instead? Why the need to take security? Is she afraid? She did have the windows tinted in the 08 Explorer back in March. We certainly hope our new super isn’t afraid. Maybe she’s just spent too much time in small towns? At any rate, the issue isn’t really the car per se (although it’s questionable that attention should have been paid to such a thing during this time of fiscal crisis), it’s the fact that the car was essentially already purchased before it was even brought to the board. We just wish our super couldn’t clear time to think about at new car – because she is too busy trying to make things right in the classrooms for students. We wish she just didn’t demand time to call the board together – again – to approve a new car for her. She already called a special meeting to change her contract regarding the car just after being hired. Her contract included a car allowance. She called a board meeting soon after hiring on to request a change in her contract to a fleet vehicle (DCSS pays all costs). We just wish a car wasn’t so bloody important. We wish the children were.

  18. Tucker Guy says:

    Did anyone else notice Dr. Atkinson increased the budget for her department 73% this year? I believe that to be a sign of poor leadership.

    https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dekalb.k12.ga.us%2Fwww%2Fdocuments%2Fbudget%2Fdivision-summaries.pdf

  19. @gr: Not following. The car cost $32,000+. They traded in three fleet cars which were supposed to give credit toward the purchase price. But then, DCSS pays taxes, tags, insurance and all fuel costs + a driver with a salary over $55k (granted, he also has other responsibilities). Certainly the super in Gwinnett spends as much but he is given an ‘allowance’ and he drives himself. He pays the costs out of his allowance and writes it all off on his personal taxes.

  20. Additionally, at the very least, could she not have bought the car in DeKalb and kept the profit for the dealer “at home”?

  21. Undercover Reformer says:

    Rumor (and, of course, there are many) is that she needs security because there have been threats made against her. Do you doubt that? I don’t. Not with people being RIF’d illegally, faculty and staff in dire financial situations, etc. Not that this was all Atkinson’s doing but…..unfortunately, it is human nature to look for someone to blame. She’s in the hot seat. I believe that if I was in that seat I would be modeling extreme frugality. I know she’s got a tough/impossible job – but it would certainly be easier if she had the people behind her and she’s not going to achieve that when she acts with disregard of the public’s opinion.

  22. Goodteacher says:

    We started the school year with a new curriculum, 3 days to train, put our rooms together and have an open house. Our new Math curriculum was not ready at the beginning of school. We had to put off teaching reading for the first month of school because we were not ready..(new program adopted at last minute). We lost a wonderful librarian (media specialist) and clerk, to be replaced by someone who does not know how to check out books. Testing month is here..everything goes on hold for the importance of 2 tests that identify gifted students (right). Oh let’s not forget the SLO’s passed out that require administration one on one in the primary grades, and the benchmarks…lest we not be teaching our students. (you know teachers are really bad about just hanging out and not teaching) So yes by all means let’s buy the boss a new car, give some of her pals a free education, and a few more a raise. My salary will soon be based on whether or not my students show gains…how will I show gains if I am not allowed to teach my students and the county misinterprets the Common Core to such a point that it is unrecognizable on tests?

    Please explain to me why the outrage is not heard loud and clear across the county? Why is there not daily reporting (besides here) on the corrupt leadership in Dekalb County? I envy the schools that have parents that can and will speak up. If you are teaching in a school with ELL students and parents, we have no voice with the exception of a few teachers that risk their jobs for speaking the truth. putting on my dark shades and lowering my cap now, as I slink back into the shadows.

  23. UPDATE

    Take a look at the updated (and annotated by DSW) documents provided to DSW with regard to Atkinson’s SUV. Particularly, look at the number of times Atkinson’s SUV was filled up 3, 4, 5 days in succession … look at the times Atkinson’s SUV was in for multi-day service, yet the SUV was still filled up once or twice during that time period … look at the fact that the color of the SUV was referred to as “white” throughout all service records, but was “black” when traded in. And the windshield was recently tinted.

    Speaking of vehicles — the General Obligation bonds (which Atkinson had assured us would not be incurred) are also to pay for an undisclosed number of vehicles. Yet, information about the vehicles that DCSS owns and assigns to employees is one of the two items that Atkinson is desperate to keep hidden. DSW asked, via Open Records Request, for information on the fleet vehicles (not including school buses) that DCSS owns. Essentially, we wanted to see, at a minimum, a print-out for each vehicle like the one provided for the superintendent’s 2008 SUV.

    We were told “it will take at least Twenty-five business days to produce these records and cost at least $4,500.00 (120 hours x $25 per hour; and 15,000 pages x $0.10 per page) to locate, retrieve, and, if necessary, redact these records before they can be disclosed … the School District will defer search and retrieval of the requested records until you agree to pay the estimated cost of $4,500.00.”

    Ignoring the fact that their math is all wrong — unless, of course, they work less than 5 hours a day at the Palace, which we have long suspected — why is it that they cannot simply provide a list of vehicles and to whom they are assigned, along with a document for each vehicle similar to the one provided for the superintendent’s 2008 SUV? An operation this loose needs to be tightened immediately and should NOT be allowed to borrow money to purchase any additional vehicles.

  24. whoshelpingthekids says:

    @ DSW – admire that you give Dr. Atkinson the benefit of the doubt about working between meetings when she has a driver – unfortunately, we have no proof that she does or doesn’t work during that time. Based on all the corruption, deception, etc., tax payers doubt everything they hear now – the boy who cried wolf syndrome! Forget an SRO driver or even a bus driver that would have to be paid….when she goes to meetings like DCPC and ELPC, she could ride with her cabinet members – that wouldn’t cost tax payers any money. In fact, most events she attends, there are other CO staff present – she could ride with them and get lots of work done!

  25. whoshelpingthekids says:

    something is very fishy if your car is in the shop several days and you are filling it up with gas…OMG – tell me it ain’t so…Lewis all over again…Did they use a P card? Pcard abuse anywhere else is grounds for immediate dismissal and criminal charges – just not in DeKalb.

  26. whoshelpingthekids says:

    Forgot to add: Why doesn’t DCSS have any paperwork showing an estimate for repairs on these 2006 and 2008 cars? Seems they violated Board policy re: what is considered surplus…the cars are needed or else they wouldn’t have purchased a new one and wouldn’t be asking to purchase others; 2006 and 2008 are hardly “obsolete” and they don’t have any proof that maintenance costs are excessive (from the surplus policy listed above, surplus means: “is not needed for school purposes, when it is obsolete, or when the cost of maintenance is excessive” ). Lastly why aren’t they getting bids on such purchases? This seems a done deal long before the
    BOE was notified. Were there any emails between the BOE, Dr. Atkinson, Perrone, Fleet services about this impending purchase – how did it move forward to start with? Did Dr. A and Perrone just assume the BOE would go along or were there “conversations”?? SACS, hurry up – here’s another example of financial mismanagement for you!

  27. Ned says:

    Just be clear–of course this is a comparatively minor budget item in a budget that wastes millions on lawsuits that should have been settled two years ago. The point is that it is insulting and arrogant of Dr. A. to ask for a special session of the Board to approve her tricked out new car (and simply horrible of the Board to approve it) at a time when teachers and bus drivers are being asked to take a vow of poverty!
    Different faces (a few) but the same old story at the palace.

  28. Dekalbite2 says:

    Why is Paul Womack even quoted? He was soundly beaten in his district. It seems that should let him know the taxpayers in his district want more funding for classrooms, not more money for administrative personnel. This is the last person 11Alive should have interviewed – a lame duck politician that lost re-election in a landslide. Mr. Womack needs to sit quietly and at least try to represent the taxpayers until his term is up in January.

  29. Ally says:

    Did anyone hear about how the Dr. A has set up a “Communications Committee” so that the news will keep DeKalb’s name out of the limelight? She is planning on taking all of the people who can be spared–as if there are–and create this new committee. Now is this a good use of tax payer dollars? All the money we have should be used only for student achievement. The news reporting DeKalb’s business is to keep honesty a priority. Please someone check this out if you doubt this…
    Thanks!

  30. Dekalbite2 says:

    If Dr. Atkinson wants to keep DeKalb out of the news, it would be easier to improve student achievement by ensuring ALL students have:
    1. A safe and clean learning environment
    2. A competent, adequately compensated teacher in a reasonably sized classroom
    3. Abundant access to cutting edge science and technology equipment

    This is really what parents/taxpayers want and students need. If she would ensure these three components, there would be a dramatically reduced need for the tens of millions spent on non teaching personnel such as coaches, security, directors, coordinators, assistant principals, etc. and expensive scripted learning programs.

    Do what is right for students and you can’t go wrong. What is this concept so difficult?

  31. Scipeach says:

    Can someone please explain why Tyson is STILL “workIng” for DCSD?

  32. concernedmom30329 says:

    For anyone interested, Atkinson is going to recommend that school start August 5th next year with a spring break of April 14th. The CRCT will be given before spring break, which means fewer instruction days ahead of testing.

    The committee was told that there would be no cost difference because the AC was on all summer anyway in the schools. THIS IS NOT NORMALLY THE CASE. THIS WAS FACTUALLY INCORRECT. Opening school in early August will cost more than opening it later in August.

  33. Kenrus says:

    I thought the 51-question math SLO was difficult to grade…. However, it’s a piece of cake compared to the reading. I refuse to spend my day off being frustrated trying to grade it, but does anyone have any suggestions on an easier way to grade it? The rubric is NOT very helpful.

  34. teacher/taxpayer says:

    Just saying my salary during my 10th year in this county is about the same as the Superintendent’s driver’s salary. I doubt he does any work after hours, experiences any frustration, worries about any children, talks with any parents, or expends even a tenth of the energy I expend. As a teacher and a taxpayer, I am resentful and angry not only at the absurdity of this school year and its effect on children’s learning, but at the fact that I am powerless to stop it.

  35. Another Dekalb Teacher says:

    @Kenrus, teachers at our school were told their SLOs had to be graded in the school. If I am understanding you correctly teachers at your school were able to take the tests home. It sounds like a testing irregularity. I’m just saying! Teachers walked around for a couple of weeks complaining that their valuable planning times were being spent on grading the tests together as a group. Then I’ve read on here that some schools got subs so that teachers could grade their tests. I recall our AP telling us that our principal was going to get subs for us so that we could grade our SLOs. That never happened. My department never even used the thousands of papers wasted on scantrons because our SLOs were never graded!

  36. @ teacher/taxpayer
    Just to be clear … Atkinson’s driver earns $55,307 (as of FY2011).

  37. teacher/taxpayer says:

    DSW: Thanks for repeating his salary. I am not sure why you felt the need to do so unless you thought I had made a error. Certainly I think it is astonishing that a security guard makes as much as I do. Wonder what his Master’s is in. (I actually have two.)
    I do not have the exact number in front of me, but my annual salary this year as a teacher with a Master’s degree and with credit for earlier experience is between $55K and $56K. Based on estimates I made before 2007, it should be over $60K.
    And my county-funded 403(b) with $8K in it should be about $17K by now, but, of course, that hasn’t been funded in several years.
    By the way, I can do accurate calculations in my head and solve word problems because I learned to as a child MANY years ago the good old-fashioned way. No SLO, online benchmarks, framework tasks, or interactive games. Just some basic instruction, worksheets, motivation, and good teachers with the time to help me over the rough spots. Whatta concept!

  38. dekalbite2 says:

    “Atkinson’s driver earns $55,307 (as of FY2011)”

    “I doubt he does any work after hours”

    Any hours over a 40 hour work week are compensated at time and a half for classified employees.

  39. @ DSW

    teacher/taxpayer is right. I make less than the driver and I have 10 years with at T6, the level between Masters (T-5) and Doctorate (T-7). In fact with T-7 I’d be making about a $1000 a year more. I’m sure the driver earns overtime driving back and forth to these evening meetings. With that, he may well be making more than a T-7 with ten years.

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