When adults focus on adults, the children suffer: A DSW editorial

Why do we do what we do here at the DSW blog?

Because in DeKalb county, we all pay a lot of money in taxes that are specifically earmarked to educate nearly 100,000 children in our county and too much of that money is being wasted, squandered and/or spent on legal fees to defend the bad decisions made by a majority vote of our current and former administrators and board.  Our school leadership has focused for far too long on providing jobs and inflated paychecks to administrators and non-teaching staff, while cutting teachers and their support in the schoolhouse year after year.

This chart posted on Nancy Jester’s blog proves the point:

The result?

A virtual freefall in student achievement for many of our students, a net loss of our best and brightest teachers and staff in the schoolhouses and no end to the lawsuits that continue to bleed us dry of tax dollars. It’s been the biggest transfer of wealth–to administrators, to contractors and to attorneys–along with the biggest decline in student achievement(1) in the history of DeKalb County Schools.

And we are shocked that leaders like Gene Walker who claim to ‘see color’* do not see the harm to children of color on this issue or refuse to see the damage they themselves are doing. When we fail to properly educate students, we risk committing them to a life of poverty or prison. We admittedly have no data on this, but you can rest assured that if you checked the IDs of all of the inmates in the five vast buildings holding over 3,500 prisoners in the DeKalb County Jail (another enormous jobs program) you will find a large number of DeKalb County Schools dropouts, most of whom are African-American.

In fact, according to a recent article in the New Yorker, “The Caging of America” – highlighted in the Huffington Post:

“Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today — perhaps the fundamental fact, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850,” writes the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik in a must-read piece. “In truth, there are more black men in the grip of the criminal-justice system — in prison, on probation, or on parole — than were in slavery then.”

As Gopnik notes, the six million people under “correctional supervision” in America are more than there were in the height of the Gulag system under Stalin. Since 1980, the percentage of Americans behind bars has more than tripled. “No other country even approaches that,” writes Gopnik. “In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education.”

He concludes that “the scale and the brutality of our prisons are the moral scandal of American life.”


Gene Walker and other black leaders today often subscribe to the principals of W.E.B Du Bois, who rightly and bravely pushed for full civil rights and increased political representation, which he believed would be brought about by the African-American intellectual elite (the ‘talented tenth’). “In contrast to Booker T. Washington’s call for industrial education topics such as agricultural and mechanical skills, Du Bois felt that black schools should offer a liberal arts curriculum (including the classics, arts, and humanities), because liberal arts were required to develop a leadership elite.”(2) In essence, both men were right, because in truth, African-Americans are no different than anyone else; some will do well in higher education and some will do well in the trades. African-Americans are not a large mass of group-think, they are individuals with unique talents and skills that should be nurtured and developed.  When you only focus on the top tenth, you leave quite a lot of people in the lurch. Especially when that privileged tenth does not heed the call to ‘pay it forward’.

Walker and others like him have twisted Du Bois’ mandate, and their actions* have played out not as a way to lift up an entire race, but as a giveaway designed to lift up friends and family. They may well be ensuring some African-Americans a nice paycheck, or a college scholarship, but when they do, they also condemn many others to a dead-end life because they do not address the needs of those not in the coveted ‘top tenth’. This is true, you see, because the American pursuit of wealth and power is not simply about racism – it’s also about classism within races. And the African-American pursuit of wealth and power is no different from anyone else’s pursuit of wealth and power. There are always people at the bottom who will pay the price, and be forced to play the necessary role that allows others to rise to the top, collecting power and an inflated paycheck while blindly standing on the backs of those they’ve trampled.

To Cheryl Atkinson, Gene Walker and the DeKalb Board of Education: Wake UP! Without denying DeKalb’s horrific history of racism in education, you are now the leaders contributing to the demise of so many young people — mostly African-American — when you worry first and foremost about protecting the high paying jobs of the African-American administrators you seek to protect and elevate. Your actions show you to be interested in securing a quality education and pathway to wealth only for selected children — the children of these African-American leaders lucky enough to be deemed the “talented tenth” of DeKalb. You have allowed far too many young people to fall through the very large cracks that have opened in this school system over the last decade. You have been given the power to improve the futures of so many, yet you have let down thousands of young people in your decision to run a top-down, adult-focused school system rather than one that focuses on the students, teachers and classroom needs first and foremost.

As elected public servants charged with educating nearly 100,000 students, the board has a responsibility to demand that ALL children are uniquely prepared for the world of work or college or trade school and given the necessary tools to earn a living, take care of their own families and pursue happiness. ALL children. Not just those that you deem worthy of becoming part of the De Bois 10% for whom you provide specialty/theme/choice programs at a greater cost per pupil than traditional programs**.  There is only one pathway to improvement for DeKalb:  We must become a child-focused school system balanced in per pupil funding, rather than the adult-focused jobs program we have become.


*Gene Walker’s public statement at an October, 2009 board meeting when fighting to keep the African-American owned Alexander law firm as partial in-house counsel calling the initiative to consolidate services with one large firm discrimination:
“I am a very race-conscious person. I know discrimination. I will not lead you to believe that I am race neutral. I see color. I love color. I do see in black and white, but judge me by my actions.”

** Click here to read download 2009-2010 per pupil funding chart showing the vast discrepancies among schools and programs. (We have never been able to get this data updated by school officials.)

(1) Wikipedia

(2) Test scores:

Click here for 2009 CRCT test scores.

Click here for 2011 CRCT test scores.

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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36 Responses to When adults focus on adults, the children suffer: A DSW editorial

  1. whyaminotsurprised says:

    It is difficult to follow the spending per pupil because we can’t see what programs are taking up that spending. For example, Briarlake has a higher spending per pupil than Oak Grove, which has higher test scores, but it also has a Deaf/Hard of Hearing program. So, some of that spending is focused on a small group of kids (necessarily!) Meeting kids ADA and disabled plans costs more.

    That said, i agree with the premise that salaries going up for administrators while services like speech therapy are being eliminated/cut back and salaries for front line instructors are down is a major problem. It’s hard enough to get teachers into schools in poorer areas. Cutting back on the services they need in order to participate in learning and putting class size into the mid 30s and higher hurts all students, but it has a proportionately larger effect on those who need more to begin with.

  2. midvaledad says:

    Thank you DSWII and Nancy.

  3. DeKalb BOE for Dummies says:

    This is one of the best articles ever posted on this site (as there are many others). This is definitely a class issue. I am praying for a pre-Christmas gift from SACS. 🙂

  4. Very true, notsurprised, however, when we evaluate the per pupil spending in the Excel document that you can download at the link at the end of the post, we are not concerned about spending on special education – we are concerned about spending on ‘specialty’ programs, like DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts – a “theme” school that a lot of administrators manage to get their children into. Per pupil costs there are over $10,000 compared to Oak Grove’s just under $8,000. Why? How about Kittredge magnet at $11,000 per student and Wadsworth magnet at $13,000 per student (and a total school population of about 200)? Compare those to other elementary schools on the chart. The disparities in spending are absurd.

    Here’s the link to the per pupil spending document:

  5. Kiko Jewel says:

    I would only add that the demise has been for more than one decade. Hallford, Freeman, and Cherry certainly contributed to this mess we’re in now–stacking the central office with friends and family. The numbers may not have been the same, but the percentage reflects the same. The recession and severe budget cuts have just uncovered what they put in place. If its not a racial issue, then tell the truth. Everything about DeKalb is racial, and always has been. I was a test dummy for the Desegregation case in 1981, and was bused to Smokerise everyday (2 hours one way) only to be met with disdain, slurs, exclusion, and hatred simply because of my color. They didn’t care that I tested in the 99th percentile across the board. They just didn’t want me to pass Memorial Drive. The same still holds true. http://www.dekalbhistory.org/RogerMillsCollection.htm

  6. thedeal2 says:

    Can you lay off the disparity bit? DeKalb has eliminated the funding for most of the special programs to the point where they are special only in name. Magnet points were all eliminated, Montessori points were all eliminated, and I know the arts schools have lost a lot, too, because they send someone to most board meetings. The funding disparity you are speaking of does not exist any longer. The only extra funding for “special” schools is transportation, which is a drop in the bucket. This is not DeKalb’s problem. The source of all of DeKalb’s problems is on Mountain Industrial.

    Emails, editorials, silly things like proof are not going to cut it any longer. Either we storm the central office with thousands of parents, or we live with it. You do eat an elephant one bite at a time, but this elephant is the size of Jupiter, and it won’t be eaten in our lifetimes.

    There is nothing in the current system structure that will lead to success, and unless something very big happens, there’s going to be little to no improvement possible.

  7. @thedeal2: If you have updated per pupil funding to show that it is in balance, we would love to see it.

  8. Weary worker says:

    Saw a short piece on the evening news that the city of Dunwoody is seeking a constitutional change to create additional school districts. Nothing about this in the AJC or the Dunwoody Crier. The Dunwoody population must be incited by the passing of the charter amendment. Perhaps the this ballot could be phrased “To provide for increased student achievement and community involvement the constitution shall be amended to allow for new school districts.” Can’t happen until 2014 at the earliest.

  9. thedeal2 says:

    I don’t have to have the exact numbers to know that when a school loses 6 teachers, the money per pupil is drastically reduced. Disparity may have been a problem in the past, but the biggest problem now is criminal, immoral management. Don’t get me wrong. There are thousands of problems, and inequity does exist, but it isn’t the battle we need to be fighting. The disparity that currently exists in our system (with all of the arts, magnet, Montessori, IB, etc. points completely gone), is no different from any other massive urban/suburban district. If we had the right people managing the system, the other problems would be corrected. We need to keep our eyes on the prize, which is new and competent management.

  10. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Given your excel document, what group is the “haves” and what group is the “have nots”? I don’t see where those lines are drawn.

    Obviously we spend a ton of money on Coralwood and special schools to hopefully keep kids out of jail. Otherwise, It doesn’t look like south districts are getting more than north districts. I averaged out the schools by district and got this…

    General Fund Average Per Pupil by board district
    $ 13,124 – Don McChesney
    $ 09,777 – Tom Bowen
    $ 09,434 – Paul Womack
    $ 09,257 – Sarah Copelin-Wood
    $ 09,044 – Donna Edler
    $ 08,752 – Nancy Jester
    $ 08,625 – Jay Cunningham

    Note: I used the current DeKalb school list to map the school to the district and some schools weren’t in the list.

  11. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Average Per Pupil Per School by board district
    $ 13,124 – Don McChesney
    $ 09,777 – Tom Bowen
    $ 09,434 – Paul Womack
    $ 09,257 – Sarah Copelin-Wood
    $ 09,044 – Donna Edler
    $ 08,752 – Nancy Jester
    $ 08,625 – Jay Cunningham

    Average Per Pupil by board district
    $ 9260 – Don McChesney
    $ 8950 – Sarah Copelin-Wood
    $ 8602 – Donna Edler
    $ 8529 – Tom Bowen
    $ 8528 – Paul Womack
    $ 8458 – Nancy Jester
    $ 7926 – Jay Cunningham

  12. @ DeKalb Inside Out
    We are confused. Please provide the documentation for the dollar figures you provide. If you don’t have all the schools, then how were you able to calculate average per-pupil funding? It would be best if you could put together a spreadsheet listing all the schools in each district. We will be happy to publish it in your comments.

  13. @InsideOut: We didn’t want to draw dividing lines. The per pupil funding is random. We see that the specialty schools tend to get far more per pupil regardless of where they are located and by and large, administrators children are enrolled in a specialty/theme/choice/magnet school of some kind. However, it’s interesting that Don McChesney’s district seems to gobble up so much more money per pupil than others. Which schools did you include in his district? We never thought to look at it that way. Interesting…

    BTW. We didn’t create that per pupil funding chart. One of our contributors got it a year ago or so by submitting an Open Records Request. We would love to see an update.

  14. Concernedmom30329 says:

    How did you assign the magnet schools? Coralwood? And this data is old and not particularly relevant anymore. For example, about a half dozen large elementary schools no longer have two assistant principals, though they each have nearly 1000 students.
    When you look at regular ed spending, what impacts totals the most is the size of the school. Larger schools will spend less per student because the overhead costs (ie janitors, school administrators, etc) will be shared among more students. Cunnngham and Jester have the largest schools in their districts, so thus the lower costs. Copelin-Wood has the smallest schools in her district, thus the higher costs.
    Magnet funding has changed. However, small schools like Wadsworth and DSA will still cost more (sometimes much more) than full size schools. There is just no way around it.

  15. Actually, theDeal2, the ‘traditional’ schools suffered losses as well – and massive increases in class size as compared to magnets (DSA for example, still has a far lower pupil to teacher ratio than say, Lakeside.) So the disparity probably does still exist. However, we really can’t know unless we have updated data – and we don’t. Anyone care to track it down?

  16. thedeal2 says:

    I’m not going to track it down, and I don’t suggest anyone else does, either, because, again, our problem is not disparity. It is gross mismanagement of the entire system from top to bottom. If you take $100,000 from Wadsworth, where do you think it’s going to go? To Rainbow? No. It will go for a new SUV for Cheryl, a raise or two for some of her besties, and a Ph.D. or two for others. THAT is the problem.

    I do respect the work you and whoever requested it did over a year ago; I just don’t think it is going to make a difference. If you somehow evened out everything, this school system would still be a sinking ship. It just isn’t the battle to fight right now.

  17. You are correct, thedeal2. Gross mismanagement is likely the problem with DeKalb County Schools. On the other hand, one of the rules of this blog is that claims must be backed up with documentation. When we see a need for documentation, we ask for it. That doesn’t mean that we disagree with what you are saying. But, it is extremely important to document with facts.

    For example, we believe that per-pupil fraud is occurring and has been occurring within DeKalb County Schools. We base that belief on a vicious attack on a DCSS bookkeeper who may have inadvertently interrupted an attempt to re-route per-pupil funds. Subsequently this bookkeeper was framed in a manner that was so amateurish that it would not even be used on any self-respecting TV program. We can name the people within DCSS who were involved, most were incredibly high-ranking — all the way to the top, along with a well-known local reporter who will publish anything — even without evidence. But, we need more documentation to publish a post and it can come only from inside the school system. We believe other DCSS bookkeepers may have been similarly framed. The information we need can come only from them — or from bookkeepers currently working within the system.

    We continue to dig and that’s why we guarantee anonymity to anyone who provides us with documented, factual information. But we absolutely require documentation.

  18. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    How accurate can these numbers be? Arabia Mountain HS is the crown jewel of the W.E.B Du Bois experiment and has the lowest General Fund Average Per Pupil funding of all the schools by a huge margin. That’s suspect. They must be getting services charged to some other bucket.

    Also note that 2 of the 3 schools with the highest per pupil funding are in Don McChesney’s district in North DeKalb. I would love to see a conversation about the usefulness of these very expensive alternative schools. Is it worth it … are we keeping these cats out of jail … I just don’t know.

    AWESOME post!

  19. Perry Tyler says:

    Do you have documentation that Dunwoody pays more in taxes than the other portions of the county? A chart on Nancy Jester’s blog indicates otherwise, at least regarding SPLOST projections.

  20. Could you share a link to this info on Nancy’s blog? I checked there and didn’t see anything about Dunwoody property tax collections or SPLOST collections.

    At any rate – SPLOST is a penny sales tax. School taxes account for over 60% of your property tax. Not sure who pays more, but the north end of the county has not suffered nearly the hit on property value as the south end. In fact, the county tried to boost taxes in central and north DeKalb exponentially in order to make up the deficit. In Dunwoody alone, over 700 properties saw random increases in assessments of $100,000 or more! They got called out on it and had to adjust people’s tax bills.

  21. Thanks for sharing the methodology for your chart via email. It’s an interesting way to look at the numbers – by district. And it does make the case for the Fernbank district wielding the most power over student spending… I’ll post the numbers you used for you here:

    Using the website below, I determined the district. I’m missing 14 out of 140 schools … respectable.

    School Number School Name District
    542 DeKalb Truancy
    015 Margaret Harris Comprehensive High School 2
    022 Coralwood Center 2
    546 DeKalb Alternative 6
    630 DeKalb Transition 5
    548 DeKalb Alternative Night HS 6
    716 International Student Center 2
    637 Gateway to College Charter 4
    506 Dekalb Early College Academy 4
    139 Wadsworth Magnet School for High Achievers 7
    621 Elizabeth Andrews High School 4
    626 UHS of Laurel Heights
    210 Gresham Park ES
    240 Knollwood ES 3
    267 Medlock ES
    501 School of the Arts
    220 Huntley Hills ES 1
    635 International Community
    507 Avondale MS 3
    259 Bob Mathis ES 5
    310 Peachcrest ES
    237 Kittredge ES 1
    390 Sky Haven ES
    250 Laurel Ridge ES 2
    348 Rowland ES 7
    340 Rock Chapel ES 6
    133 Briar Vista ES 2
    266 Meadowview ES 3
    195 Flat Shoals ES 3
    154 Clifton ES 3
    400 Snapfinger ES 7
    213 Hawthorne ES 1
    256 Livsey ES 4
    178 Dunaire ES 7
    132 Briarlake ES 4
    270 Midvale ES 4
    235 Kelley Lake ES 3
    508 Avondale HS 3
    634 DeKalb PATH Academy Charter School
    113 Ashford Park ES 2
    185 Evansdale ES 4
    521 Chamblee MS 1
    102 DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts 3
    236 Kingsley ES 1
    120 Avondale ES 3
    638 DeKalb Academy of Technology and the Environment Charter School
    544 McNair MS 3
    320 Redan ES 6
    350 Sagamore Hills ES 2
    152 Chesnut ES 1
    205 Glen Haven ES
    370 Robert Shaw ES 3
    136 Brockett ES 4
    398 Smoke Rise ES 4
    492 Woodridge ES 7
    115 Atherton ES
    146 Murphy Candler ES 5
    108 Allgood ES 7
    582 Champion Theme MS 6
    344 Rockbridge ES 6
    232 Jolly ES 4
    257 E. L. Miller ES 5
    145 Canby Lane ES 5
    529 Cross Keys HS 2
    332 Rainbow ES 5
    425 Stoneview ES 5
    595 McNair HS 3
    465 Toney ES 7
    573 Shamrock MS
    524 Freedom MS 6
    585 Towers HS 7
    565 Peachtree MS 1
    527 Columbia HS 7
    523 Chapel Hill MS 5
    420 Stone Mountain ES 6
    218 Hightower ES 1
    342 E. L. Bouie ES 5
    306 Oak View ES 3
    284 Montgomery ES 1
    567 Redan HS 7
    215 Henderson Mill ES 1
    518 Cedar Grove MS 3
    362 Shadow Rock ES 6
    260 McLendon ES 7
    569 Salem MS 5
    584 Bethune MS
    118 Austin ES 1
    212 Hambrick ES 6
    557 Lithonia HS 5
    312 Pine Ridge ES 6
    187 Fairington ES 5
    525 Clarkston HS 7
    275 Midway ES 3
    579 Stephenson MS 6
    148 Cedar Grove ES 3
    574 M. L. King, Jr HS 5
    549 Henderson MS 1
    522 Chamblee HS 1
    496 Woodward ES 2
    325 Cary Reynolds ES 1
    580 Stone Mountain HS 6
    558 Lithonia MS 5
    576 SW DeKalb HS 5
    484 Vanderlyn ES 1
    526 Columbia MS 5
    305 Oak Grove ES 4
    230 Indian Creek ES 7
    300 Oakcliff ES 4
    190 Fernbank ES 2
    592 Tucker MS 4
    570 Sequoyah MS 1
    578 Stephenson HS 6
    519 Cedar Grove HS 3
    156 Columbia ES 3
    345 Princeton ES 6
    555 Lakeside HS 4
    593 Tucker HS 4
    568 Miller Grove MS 5
    581 Stone Mountain MS 4
    309 Panola Way ES 7
    535 Dunwoody HS 1
    225 Idlewood ES 4
    498 Wynbrooke 6
    138 Browns Mill ES 5
    147 Chapel Hill ES 5
    176 Dresden ES 4
    533 Druid Hills HS 2
    566 Redan MS 7
    278 Montclair ES 2
    262 McNair ES 3
    194 Narvie Harris ES 5
    261 Marbut ES 5
    415 Stone Mill ES 6
    315 Pleasantdale ES 4
    564 Miller Grove HS 5
    186 Flat Rock ES 5
    180 Dunwoody ES 1
    503 Arabia Mountain HS 5

  22. Julie J. Oinonen Esq. MBA M.Ed of the law firm, Williams Oinonen LLC shared the following documents with us that she received via an ORR for a lawsuit, comparing those RIFd since September, 2011 and those hired since September, 2011.

    We have included optional views with the data sorted by job title and by pay. We have a lot of work to do on these files yet, but a cursory look seems to show that a majority of the highly paid admin jobs that were supposedly RIFd have been replaced, netting no savings – and in fact, there’s a possibility that the new hires in the CO could be more costly than before the budget cuts.

    However, it appears that teachers have not been replaced in any meaningful percentages. We were surprised to see that many RIFd teachers were actually in the hard to replace categories of math and science. It’s all very concerning to us.

    ORR-9-hired since 091511

    ORR-9-hired since 091511-BY-SALARY-2

    ORR-9-hired since 091511-by-job-title

    ORR 8 termed since 091511

    ORR 8 termed since 091511-by-salary

    ORR 8 termed since 091511-by-Job-Title

  23. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Fernbank … that’s it! Where are the lines drawn and who’s getting the money? Special Interests: Special needs, non traditional needs children and Fernbank. IMHO.

  24. Undercover Reformer says:

    DSW, I hope you and Ms. Oinonen realize what those spreadsheets actually represent. On what you are calling the list of employees “RIF’d since 2011” are the names of the employees who are retiring as of 11/30/2012 as well as those who retired in June 2012, etc. Many of those on the list left of their own volition this school year (not RIF’d) and some of the folks who were actually RIF’d are not on the list!

  25. Very True, Undercover. Remember when Dr. Atkinson said that many of the RIFs would be covered by attrition? The list that DCSS provided did not differentiate reasons for separating employees. HR does not keep good records whatsoever. We have been trying to compose these into more user-friendly spreadsheets. Stand by. But you are correct – just because someone is considered RIFd does not mean they were fired or laid off. RIFs were supposed to consist of (it was said) 700+ who DCSS expected to leave by attrition and not be replaced. The voluntary leaves, however, (it was also said) were far fewer than expected. That’s when Dr. Atkinson asked permission to lay off 200 or so more teachers and staff. The board said no.

    All that said, if you are aware of people who were RIFd or otherwise left DCSS after September, 2011, then please forward that info for our chart.

  26. dekalbite2 says:

    @DeKalb Inside Out
    “How accurate can these numbers be? Arabia Mountain HS is the crown jewel of the W.E.B Du Bois experiment and has the lowest General Fund Average Per Pupil funding of all the schools by a huge margin. That’s suspect. They must be getting services charged to some other bucket.”

    Arabia Mountain has a low per pupil funding level because so many of the teachers have only 1 to 3 years of experience. There is no magic here. See this detailed analysis of Arabia Mountain employee’s salaries:

    ” Arabia Mountain High School per teacher and per administrator costs is substantially lower than the overall county per teacher and per administrator costs, which are $68,000 and $114,000 respectively (25% benefit cost included). Arabia Mountain had substantial teacher turnover last year, and seasoned science and math teachers are extremely difficult to replace. Close to half of Arabia Mountain’s teachers are in their first or second year of teaching (per the Georgia Certification website) – most with only a bachelor’s degree.”


  27. Another comment says:

    The attorney who sent you this must be having fun. it is very clear from looking at what she was given is that there is clear reverse discrimination against all white employees. African American Employees are the favored employees. There was blatant age discrimination. White males over 40 were blatently discriminated against, in some areas. Hispanics and Asian employees were also discriminated against. The real key is who was hired back. What classifications, weren’t touched. Those that have members that go to a certain minority church or any minority church who would get on TV about them being contracted out. But then they contract out, most likely to minority contractors at a higher price more skilled workers. This will cost so much more and gain shoddy work more lawsuits. It is unheard of from a management point of view that certain classifications were not contracted out first.

    When you have benefits for an employee, like a school system does, a low paid person costs more In benefits than a person that makes several times higher. For example you have L that has 3 or 4 kids, no husband and is making $20k , the cost of the employer to pay for health insurance for her and family would be approx 8,000- 10,000 per year depending on her share and employer share, between 40-50%of her salary.

    Then take employee M who makes 60k and is married with a family. The same family coverage for them would only be 15-19%

    Then a Dept head who makes $120k D and is married with a family. The same family coverage for them would only be 7.5%, to 9.5%.

    For those of you that think 8,000 is too much, it is what the Federal Government pay per employee with a family ( a little over $700 per mo) it varies slightly per plan. The plans in the Federal exchange will be about $1,000 per month un subsidized, that is what the Federal employee blue cross and blue shield is when you add in employee portion.

    In the Federal Government as a manager, of an Office or Division you have to manage to FTE count, full time equivalents, then your salary and personal budget which is broken out for you out of the approved some century Congressional budget. So you always have to manage to less than what is in the President budget as the power play plays out. Does not matter who is in office. ( You constantly update your list of critical personnel, in case Congress does net keep on passing continuing resolutions until they have a budget passed.) You also have to manage within a benefit mark-up surprisingly only about 24-25% , which cover health insurance, life insurance, amounts that go into up to 3 different retirement system.

    Any experienced manager or auditor can clearly see that Dekalb school System is a Jobs program that is not focused on teaching the students. This was not a properly run RIF. it is chock full of discrimination cases. I would love to see the contracts they have issued and to who to do the work of those who were robbed of there jobs.

  28. Gardenerontheside says:

    I understand DSW that you need updated figures, but please stop using the old costs per student. I know that at my school, one of the constantly flogged specialty schools, my average class size is 30. And at Chamblee High School the average size is smaller now because there are 36 teachers in trailers where you can’t fit 36 students by law. Also, everybody is still using the “loaded” salary numbers, I’m thinking that also needs to be adjusted because there are fewer benefits: no health care supplement, no TSA.

  29. All True, Garden. But we cannot get updated data from the administration, so we can only use what we have. And we always state that the data is a year old. However, we are fairly certain that the trend has continued. We have suggested many times that DSA could be absorbed into a larger high school like North Springs in Fulton. (Check out this school here.) Same for the very tiny Wadsworth. And small special programs like DECA and others can be consolidated into one building with one principal and shared staff. There are still many places to consolidate and save.

    That said, we always state that first and foremost, the bloat in the Central Office is where the first and deepest cuts should take place. Cutting one six-figure CO staffer saves as much as cutting 2 teachers or 3-4 other staff and does not directly effect students in the schoolhouse. However, as far as we can tell, many of the CO cuts have been fake. They cut on paper, and then quickly replaced the same job (often with a different title) or moved that person to another position. Or worse, (and the administration will not give us this information even though we filed an ORR), many of the CO positions have been replaced with contracted employees – off the radar of general payroll.

    And the result has been that the bulk of the cuts have fallen on the backs of teachers.

  30. @another comment: “Any experienced manager or auditor can clearly see that Dekalb school System is a Jobs program that is not focused on teaching the students.”

    Yep. That’s what we’ve been saying for a very long time. The response though, mostly has been, “So what? That’s the way it’s always been.”

    As far as an experienced auditor and an in-depth audit – we wonder if we will ever see such a study. We were led to believe that a full forensic audit was being conducted. In fact, Dr. Atkinson touted this as underway in her 16 point response to SACS. (At the time, we wondered how that could be done given the low cost approved by the board for the audit.) However, it is obvious that this was just a simple random audit where auditors looked into a few key transactions that Dr. Atkinson specifically requested. That only makes us wonder what didn’t get noticed when the auditors attention was specifically turned the other way.

    Two of Atkinson’s bullet points in her response to SACS that we wonder about are:

    + Initiated a Board-approved forensic audit of the District’s financial records performed by KPMG, which is currently under way.

    + Restructured the central office for greater efficiency and effectiveness which resulted in the elimination of 303 personnel.

  31. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    DekalbBite and DSW … WOW … that sure was an informative post regarding Arabia Mountain Funding. Young teachers, low SPED population and low gifted population would explain alot.

    Is there any research regarding DeKalb School of the Arts? According to DSW’s spreadsheet, General Fund Average Per Pupil is roughly the same as Chamblee MS which is filled with gifted students.

    It’s very upsetting that schoolhouse per pupil funding is not transparent.

  32. dekalbite2 says:

    @ DeKalb Inside Out
    Note there are no Instructional Coaches. Almost everyone at Arabia Mountain directly instructs students.

  33. The AJC has posted an article about Nancy Jester’s budget analysis showing that the administrative costs are the only department to have increased in the past several years. Gene Walker states in the article that he doesn’t think anyone got a raise… but Nancy’s point is that there are just too many employees in admin, most with job titles that pay too much.

    Figures show disparity in budget cuts, DeKalb school board member says

  34. dekalbite2 says:


    Positions are created with new titles and those titles are moved to new (and higher) pay scales (in so instances entire new pay scales were created in the past – is that still happening?). Then employees are promoted into those new titles with the corresponding increases in pay. Technically not a raise, but this has had the same effect on busting the budget.

    That is why it is critical to PUBLISH every title/position on the DeKalb Schools website and the corresponding compensation. Currently, a position/title can be created and placed on one of many salary schedules, and increases in salary given to an employee without any transparency or oversight from individual taxpayers or any interested group of taxpayers. That was one of the main purposes of the 2004 Ernst and Young audit and also of the recent MAG audit. Has that been done? Who kows? DeKalb is ONLY school system in metro Atlants that refuses to publish the title/positions and concurrent salary schedules for NON teaching employees who BTW make up the majority of DeKalb personnel.

    Here are some examples of what DeKalb SHOULD be doing but continues to refuse to do:


    Taxpayers need to ask their respective BOE members and most especially Dr. Walker and Dr. Atkinson why EVERY other metro Atlanta school system publishes this information on their website except DeKalb. This goes to the heart of fiscal responsibility and transparency for taxpayers.

    This whole mess of non teaching salary compensation being vague and appearing to be subject to inner office politics will not change until this is done. Publish the positions/titles of non teaching as well as teaching personnel and then publish their corresponding salary schedules just like EVERY other metro Atlanta school system.

  35. Russell Simmons writes a fabulous column for the Huffington Post called, “The Black Blog”.

    Recently, he posted an open letter to President Obama calling on him to help black and brown people in their struggles in our urban communities.

    He writes (and we 100% agree!)

    If our ultimate goal is putting Americans back to work and creating new jobs for young people, let’s work backwards. What is preventing these communities from entering or re-entering the work-force? Or rather what skills are needed for them to be competitive? After listening to people’s stories from across this country, this is what I have learned we need to do in order to re-build our families, our communities, our companies and our neighborhoods.

    1. End the “War on Drugs.” For the past forty years, we have unsuccessfully waged a war against our own people, creating a “baby to prison” pipeline that has annihilated the working population of young black and brown men. Through the use of archaic and unjust laws, we have been able to warehouse millions of prisoners, many of whom were first-time, non-violent offenders. The solution to our drug problem is not imprisoning more people, it is rehabilitation, fair laws and drug courts.

    2. Continue the viscous assault on the eradication of poverty. Levels of poverty have hit an all-time high during this recession, however we have solutions that can bring these numbers down. We should continue to innovate programs for the most vulnerable, including job-training (technical skills), fatherhood classes, healthcare prevention, teen-pregnancy prevention, after-school activities (including arts and sports) and more access to healthier foods.

    3. Build the best and affordable education system in the world. Your understanding of education as a path out of poverty has resonated with millions of families in this country. Your protection of Pell grants, promotion of community colleges and the “race to the top” initiative have been some of your greatest accomplishments in your first term. The 2020 goal of America having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world is attainable and we should keep fighting to reach it.

    Read the full post here:

  36. dekalbite2 says:

    @DeKalb Inside Out
    “Is there any research regarding DeKalb School of the Arts?”

    Yes. Here are some interesting numbers:

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