Signs of a Cash-Flow Problem?

When a Dekalb school runs low on necessities (toilet paper, cleaning supplies, paper used in classrooms, etc), the Principal issues a purchase order to buy more of those supplies. The purchase order is then sent up to the appropriate Regional Superintendent [Link to list of schools under each Regional Superintendent — ], who has to approve the paperwork before anything is purchased.

DSW2 is hearing reports from schools that Regional Superintendent(s) are ignoring or refusing to process all purchase orders sent to them. The individual schools are puzzled by this. Being barely 12 weeks into the school year, there *should* be plenty of money available to spend — the bookkeepers at individual schools have ledgers that show a lot of available money — but they cannot spend the money. Meanwhile, their school is out of needed supplies!

Is this an indication of a major cash flow problem in the district, simple incompetence in the central office, or both?

Are DSW2 readers seeing any other signs of cash flow problems in their schools?

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31 Responses to Signs of a Cash-Flow Problem?

  1. tracy white says:

    This is a school system that managed to somehow omit a $44 million dollar expense for electricity from its budget. Toilet paper budget? That’s funny! Every year my kids were in school I was expected to send Kleenex, so just add Charmin to the supply list in the fall. I also sent reams of copy paper, boxes of bandaids, #2 pencils, erasers, spray cleaner, paper towels, hand sanitizer… I also brought myself in to clean and assist.

    The big problem comes in where the parents either can’t afford to do this or don’t care to do this – what is considered the “poorer schools”. Meanwhile, the system has added layer upon layer of Staff positions. My daughter is now a teacher and this is an issue in all of the school systems. Bloated middle management, no supplies, no raises for the teachers, and now the school calendar is expanding so that the poor teachers don’t get a nice long break when they could regroup and perhaps take a college class to enhance their skills? But I digress…

  2. concernedmom30329 says:


    We are hearing this. And it is infuriating. And if parents complain to the Central Office, someone goes after the principals. Purchase orders are getting lost..

    The bigger issue is that this Administration resents that parents are so knowledgeable. Their goal is to shut us

  3. SagamoreHillsMom says:

    I am sad that my children have to wash their hands in cold water in cold weather in the cold, unheated bathrooms at the elementary schools. That’s sad. I’ll bet the superintendent has warm water in her bathroom.

  4. Yes, the Palace has a problem.

    SACS has left the building, so Tekisha Ward-Smith is busy calling Principals in to tell them that their salaries are slashed, effective in their next paycheck – Happy Thanksgiving, Principals! Atkinson and March are not dummies; they waited until right after SACs finished interviewing Principals during the accreditation visit .

    My guess is that teacher layoffs and/or salary cuts are coming next. Merry Christmas, Teachers!

    DCS’s deficit is way bigger than Atkinson & March have let on.

  5. Bye bye says:

    I an hearing that the rush to surplus the properties in Monday’s agenda is to raise cash. Can you say fire sale?

  6. dswcontrib, how did you hear this? The principals are losing salary?

  7. howdy1942 says:

    This is yet another example of inefficiency in our system. Each school should have a budget. The principal should have the authority to order rolls of toilet paper and other essential items. If a principal is not competent enough to make such decisions, then he/she should not be a principal.
    Time should not be taken, resources should not be spent, and the “regional principal” should not be involved. In fact, I see little or no need for a “regional principal” – give principals a mission, objectives, a budget, and authority and then get out of the way.

    This is yet one more symptom of “management-paralysis” that has resulted in such a bloated, overstaffed bureaucracy in Dekalb County that has led to serious budget issues. If Dekalb is serious about reducing its budget, it should eliminate layers of management and make decisions at the lowest possible layer.

    I have long said that we don’t necessarily need a “doctor” to run our school system. We need someone who can motivate, lead, assign responsibilities, set objectives, expect performance, and reward those who do perform and either develop or terminate those who don’t. Just look at Gwinnett College who hired the retired Dean of Academics at West Point to come in and set up that college. There are so many other examples. The problem is that our school board has such a narrow vision – not only in personnel matters – but also in the power of empowered employees. Unleash them, motivate them, lead them, reward them. It’s really not difficult!

  8. decaturparent says:

    Amen! Empower the local schools to provide for their own needs, My DeKalb County office ran out of toilet paper and paper towels today. If they can’t get this right, how can they get education right?

  9. We can’t make copies because the paper hasn’t come in because the purchase order hasn’t been approved, yet over 100 people are paid seventy dollars a piece to attend a “training” that lasted 38 minutes= $7000.00. Hmmmmm. Oh yeah, the superintendent gets a new vehicle but there is no ink for school printers. And yes, principals did get called in to be told their salaries were being slashed effective immediately. Esprit de corps? Nope.

  10. concernedmom30329 says:

    What justification is being used to reduce principal’s salaries?

    And I am hearing from two different regions the same thing, that POs aren’t being signed.

    We are in a world of trouble people. A world of trouble.

  11. concerned13 says:

    The principals affected were those who received a supplement to their base salary in order to be the highest paid employee at their school. These principals will no longer be given the supplement, which means that there could be employees in a school making more than their principal.

  12. Quagmire says:

    Rumors are flying that Superintendent Atkinson just resigned and they are trying to get Dr. Wendolyn Bouie to do the job! Can anyone confirm?

  13. Quagmire says:

    Principals were given pay which didn’t follow any sort of reasonable pay scale and in some cases principals with a masters were paid same as those with a doctorate with many more years experience. Principals were called and informed of the uniform pay scale and salaries were adjusted

  14. Quagmire says:

    @concernedmom30329. Gosh, if it wasn’t for parents, things wouldn’t get done. Thanks to those who help our schools get things done

  15. DeKalb BOE for dummies says:

    Hi! I don’t mean to start rumors, but I have heard that the SUPER has resigned….last night…is there any validity to this rumor?

  16. Concernedmom30329 says:

    Keep in mind that it is possible that everyone is hearing a rumor that originated with the same person. That person told a few people and they told a few people etc etc etc.
    The version I heard named a new positions, at least the state, for our superintendent. Google comes up empty as this state seems to require the public notice of either the finalists or the sole candidate for the position.

  17. DeKalb BOE for dummies: Back on August 29, Quagmire asked about a rumor that Atkinson was moving to Texas; that post was here, in the “Is DeKalb Following Georgia Law Regarding RIFs?” gallery:
    If that is the rumor you heard, it is at least two months old.

  18. @DeKalb BOE: No there is no validity, that we can determine, to the rumor. We have heard that one for a while. Also, there is no validity, that we can determine, to the rumor that Atkinson and Tyson are related. They apparently simply share the same maiden name of Howell.

  19. Experience and results should figure into principal pay. I think most of us couldn’t give a hoot about whether or not a principal has a doctoral degree.

  20. Undercover Reformer says:

    This rumor is being spread by district level personnel. Not even those who work in the same building know what is up or down. Perhaps they are hoping that if they wish hard enough…it will come true.

  21. teachermom says:

    Are the AP salaries being adjusted as well?

  22. DeKalb BOE for dummies says:

    Thanks for your responses. Many so-called rumors in this district have come to the light as being true…P-Card, affairs, Friends and Family Connections, Toilet Paper issue, reduction in principal salaries (this should’ve been addressed when they were robbing teachers of their salaries), administrative bloat, exposing contract negotiations, lying, cheating, stealing, begging, and borrowing….and many of them come from those who work in the central office. I haven’t heard many rumors that didn’t turn out to be true. This rumors has circulated from northern, to central, to southern DeKalb. I am certain that they (the BOE) have heard it as well. Why can’t someone put thus rumor to rest…that would be extremely transparent to me.

  23. My guess is that Atkinson’s next move will be to become a “Success for All” employee.

    I do not think Atkinson will ever be able to land another Superintendent job at a big district. Googling her leads to AJC headlines likes these: “Parents stunned as DeKalb school board bars public”; “Accreditation agency to investigate allegations of school board”; “Parents mobilizing against DeKalb school chief candidate”; “Superintendent confronts tough questions from parents”; “SACS to DeKalb: We’re coming next month”; and “DeKalb schools get another warning on SACS accreditation – Why so many second chances?””

    The longer Atkinson stays, the worse her headlines are going to be. At some point soon, the the news is going to hit that DCS’s deficit is way bigger than she’s let on and the news stories will make it clear that she is either incompetent or dishonest.

    That leaves SFA. Her Ed.D. paper was a SFA sales pitch and her main accomplishment at DCS has been sending federal dollars to SFA, the same thing she did in Ohio. San Antonio seems to be a big SFA client – perhaps that is where the “Atkinson is heading to Texas” rumors are about?

  24. That San Antonio rumor would make us ill. If we lost out on hiring Dr. Duron due to Dr Walker’s seeing ‘color’ and now that someone’s picked him up and he’s left his San Antonio post, we would be very upset to learn that the super we hired over him is his replacement. VERY upset. That just better not be true.

  25. Concernedmom30329 says:

    I think dsw2contributor is suggesting that our Super might be headed to work for Success For All and that there is a big presence of that organziation based in San Antonio, thus the Texas rumors.

  26. Ah! Sorry to vent. At any rate, we have absolutely no confirmation of this rumor. It appears to be a rumor gone wild. Then again, we have had no absolute denials either…

  27. Back to the topic of cash flow problems in the district, I may have missed previous discussions, but is anyone aware that DCSD will no longer be paying into teacher health benefits programs? This is amazing and appalling to me! This has always been one perk of teaching (good healthcare, dental, etc. ) yet they have now taken it to the point of not paying any of our benefits as the premiums continue to go up. How many teachers can actually afford that extra $100+ a month? I imagine it will come to light that many teachers will choose to go uninsured….how’s that gonna look on the high and mighty Board et al? It’s amazing how much they’ve taken from us yet my heart remains with the students I teach. I do not blame anyone for leaving this failing miserable system for greener pastures. If I did not have such a connection to the families and kids I serve, I’d likely be O-U-T as well. So sad. I guarantee the teacher pool will be dwindled next year, if nothing else, fleeing to the districts who have been fiscally responsible and can treat their teachers with the dignity and respect they deserve. The funny thing is that the district “higher ups” opinion is that schools and principals are responsible for their own morale through all this mess. It is not the job of the district to make the teachers happy. Really? I heard this through the mouth of an area superintendent at a meeting earlier this year and I’m certain this is what they are told to say. Never ceasing to amaze…deKalb

  28. plusone says:

    Well maybe some of these rumors will be addressed today. Just don’t allow Kendra March to be the interim super. Has the doctorate-gate program been halted? when is the next board meeting?

  29. We just received this message forwarded to us from David Schutten, President of the DeKalb Organization of Educators:

    Within the past 30 hours, I have received over two dozen texts, e-mails, and phone calls about a rumor Dr. Atkinson was leaving DeKalb for a job in Texas. This rumor is not true. This rumor began circulating six or eight weeks ago, but for some reason went into overdrive this weekend. I asked Dr. Atkinson one month ago, and she told me she was not leaving DeKalb. She reaffirmed today she is not leaving DeKalb. I appreciate those of you who contacted me about it. Hopefully, we can work together to focus on educating the students of DeKalb and to improve teaching and learning conditions and not be distracted by these type of things. And to be blunt, I can pretty much trace the overdrive into which this rumor sky rocketed since yesterday morning back to one person with little credibility. I normally do not send e-mails on Sunday, but I am sending this one hoping it will save dozens of people the time and energy checking out the veracity of this rumor. I have found a little push back to people on the source of their questionable information goes a long way. I will keep the rest of my opinions on this matter of rumors and those who delight in them to myself. Again, thanks to those of you who heard it from many people and contacted me to determine if it was true.

  30. The next board meeting is tonight. We just posted the agenda. Tune in at 6 pm on Comcast 24 or stream live online. Then leave comments on our post:

  31. no name says:

    The AJC has posted a new article from Ty, that explains why DCS has to pay $900,000 back to the federal DOE:

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