Or were they simply reshuffled to other departments resulting in little to no savings to our budget?
Dr. Atkinson is quoted as stating to many people that 303 jobs were eliminated from the central office. The operative words are “central office” (i.e., the Palace). We have received information that, among other things, central office staff were shuffled into schools, who had to provide an office, but these repositioned central office staff members did not provide services to the schools where they were relocated. So, yes, it may have been possible to move 303 people out of the central office building (the Palace), but most, if not all, of them did not lose their jobs. In fact, we have found instances where some were “re-hired” at a higher salary.
There was a great deal of pressure to reduce the top-heavy school system. Atkinson responded, with claims that she eliminated exactly the number recommended by the salary review audit. However, many of those ‘reductions in force’ (RIFs) were simply re-coded or moved to other jobs or departments. In addition, Atkinson replaced nearly all of the senior staff she had eliminated and after eliminating the entire PR department, has been paying consultants to do the work.
Below is a recent quote from the Patch in response to the December SACS report:
“Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson’s staff responded by saying she has cooperated with SACS investigators and more than 300 central office jobs have been eliminated. ‘We not only had to deal with our budget and a deficit, we worked hard to address whatever concerns were brought,’ said Atkinson, through her staff.”
DeKalb School Watch (DSW) has filed several Open Records Requests on the subject of 303 jobs that were supposedly eliminated, but Atkinson has yet to provide what surely must be available, if indeed, 303 people were “reduced in force” (RIF’d): a list of those 303 employees and their position titles. The monthly human resources reports are so antiquated, unorganized and poorly done that it has been nearly impossible for us to identify the 303 RIF’d employees by simply examining the monthly HR reports to the Board. We repeatedly asked for the original spreadsheets, but they were never provided.
We did the best we could and some of the documents we dug up can be found at these links:
This spreadsheet is more in-depth on the restructuring. See if you can follow it:
Copy of Restructuring Presentation- Final.-Highlights1 2
Dr. Atkinson continues to insist that she cut 300 jobs from the Central Office, however, October’s HR report revealed that the dollar amount for general administration is holding steady. When pressed, the head of HR, Takshia Ward-Smith admitted that she has not been tracking the so-called “RIFs”, but will do so ‘going forward’. So for now, the promised implemented cuts to the Central Office remain a mystery.
Basically, we found that yes, 303 jobs may have been eliminated from what was called the Central Office. However, of those 303, over 90 were immediately rehired into different jobs and many more were rehired in what could essentially be the same job with a new title or replaced with a contracted employee who receives a 1099 and is not reported on the state salary schedule. The result of this reshuffling of highly compensated personnel has not been much of a savings — and certainly nowhere near the savings touted by Dr. Atkinson. It all appears to be yet another shell game, overlaid with DeKalb County Schools’ patented “smoke and mirrors.” In the end, we expect the actual spending to far outpace the board approved budget once again.