The Proposed 2014 Budget

Michael Thurmond has finally produced a proposed budget for FY 2014.  The original due date according to the Tentative Budget Development Process Calendar FY 2013-2014 was March 13. Thurmond was given an extension to the April 6 Board meeting. However, at that meeting he requested another day to flush out some ‘found’ money and adjust the budget accordingly.

So, where did Thurmond find an extra millions?
The Executive Summary of the budget tells us the following:

$ 97,000.00 Title IIA
Reimbursement for indirect costs for management of the Title IIA grant
$ 500,000.00 School Nutrition Reimbursements
Reimbursement for indirect costs for management of the School Nutrition Program
$ 5,800,000.00 After School Extended Day Program
Current surplus funds reserved for future allocation
$ 500,000.00 Title I Substitutes
Reimbursement for substitute cost for teachers paid through Title I funds

$ 6,897,000.00 Total revised anticipated revenue as of 5/7/13

Download the entire proposed 2014 budget from our files here>> DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT FY2014 BUDGET PROPOSAL

To download the budget in Excel format, click the link to Stan Jester’s Fact Checker site below.
http://factchecker.stanjester.com/documents/

The school board is meeting tonight at 6 pm and Thurmond will present the budget. Thurmond mentioned at the Monday night meeting that Mark Elgart of SACS would be in attendance.  Tune in to Comcast 24 or stream the meeting online at http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/pds-tv24

In addition, late-breaking news related to this new budget is that our CFO, Michael Perrone has resigned. This is very distressing as it could indicate that these ‘found’ piles of money were either overlooked by Perrone and found by Thurmond – or they are not ‘real’ and Perrone just had to resign rather than put his credentials on the line.

Read more here>> Perrone resigns as DeKalb Schools CFO

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67 Responses to The Proposed 2014 Budget

  1. It looks like this meeting is being recorded. Tune in to Comcast 24 or stream the meeting online at http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/pds-tv24

  2. The AJC has an article with a bit more information on the proposed budget.

    DeKalb superintendent would use surplus to eliminate teacher furlough day
    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/dekalb-to-hold-second-budget-hearing/nXjxG/

    A revenue surplus and proposed cuts to non-classroom expenditures will allow the DeKalb County School District to restore one employee furlough day for the fiscal year that begins in July.

    Superintendent Michael Thurmond released his proposed budget Tuesday. It contains $18.5 million in cuts to legal fees and the central office. The savings would go toward eliminating a furlough day at a cost of $3 million so teachers and others will have another day for training. Thurmond is also recommending $4 million for textbook purchases, $1.1 million for a new student assessment system and $1 million to plan for a new “career pathways” academy. He is proposing other new expenditures in his $759 million budget that also sets aside nearly $13 million in savings.

    The school board gets final say on the fiscal year 2014 budget, with votes on a tentative and then final version expected in June. Meanwhile, the board will hold a second public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday at 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Stone Mountain. A third and final hearing is 3 p.m. on May 15.

    However, it’s all so very strange. In today’s edition of the Dunwoody Neighbor, the report says the following:

    New school board grapples with shortfall

    “The DeKalb County School District’s revenue is flat, but expenses are $14.6 million more than the previous year’s budget.

    Michael Perrone, DeKalb County School District chief financial officer, told a crowd of about 50 people last week the district’s shortfall comes from increases in the state’s teacher retirement system at $3.8 million, certified and non-certified health benefits at $7.4 million, state-mandated salary increases at $1.3 million and a new charter school in the district at $2.2 million.”

    Read more: Neighbor Newspapers – DeKalb school board holds first of three public hearings on the budget”

  3. SRO says:

    I just find it utterly amazing that these people found millions of dollars laying around the palace and didn’t know about it. This is what happens when you have someone’s Soror or the county commissioners cousin doing the accounting. I hope Mr. Thurmond does the right thing with this money and give it to the teachers immediately. I bet Beasley and Ramona and crew are licking their chops right now trying to find some new useless, expensive program to purchase.

  4. Fed up teacher says:

    You have got to be kidding! He only wants to restore 1 furlough day for us??!!! This man has no clue what this pay cut has done to the morale and work ethic if the teachers in DeLalb. This district truly deserves what it gets if this is allowed to go through. We need ALL days restored!!!

  5. SRO says:

    These people are truly tone deaf. 1 million for a new student assessment system – so what is IDMS for?

  6. Some of us remember the days of Rick Cost, former CFO who left the Clewless administration for Gwinnett. You could say that all the corruption started on his watch, but it’s equally plausible that he left because he saw what was coming. In any event, his financial reports were concise and clear, and he presented them to staff in a literate fashion, ready to answer questions. He explained things so that they made sense. Now Perrone is leaving after less than a year. It’s hard to believe that he created much of the bad fiscal dealings, in such a short time–seems more likely that he just couldn’t stomach what was going on. The fog that surrounds money in DCSD shows no signs of lifting, and giving teachers back one of the days that they should have, anyway, shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that things are looking up. Let them eat cake, seems still to be the administration’s motto.

  7. Fed up teacher says:

    But if cake is to be taken back, so to speak, take it from the palace! Parents teachers can’t take more cuts!!!!!

  8. concernedmom30329 says:

    My sources say that Perrone objects to some of the “surplus” that Thurmond identified. And wanted to protect his reputation.

  9. Chloe says:

    I agree Fed Up Teacher! One furlough day means nothing! They need to all be restored! Teachers have had it and this is teacher appreciation week! Dekalb treats their teachers like crap!

  10. SMH says:

    The teachers of the year are also being treated very poorly.

  11. bettyandveronica1 says:

    was the afterschool funds budgeted but unused, anyone have any idea where that line item is in the last budget?

  12. Highly Qualified says:

    An interim with no plans to stay would not earmark money for new inititives like this student evaluation program. A real caretaker approach would be to fund the classrooms and let the new permanent Superintendent decide on these expensive “innovation” #SRO is right – get IDMS to do any new evaluation quantification. One day is not even a real return to baseline…

  13. Sadly, unless and until they finally order that FULL FORENSIC AUDIT, we don’t feel comfortable believing much of anything they say about the finances.

  14. NEED To Do’s:

    Full Forensic Audit
    Return full pay and pension contributions to teachers
    Post a full org chart with names/phone numbers
    Continue to consolidate small schools and close unnecessary buildings/programs
    Put an end to the Heery lawsuit
    Choose one law firm to be our counsel of record – two is costing too much
    Allow schools to get dual accreditation if they choose
    Lease any usable buildings to start up charters (encourage more of these)

    * Most of all – start a search for a full time, permanent, highly qualified superintendent – as we were led to believe was going to happen when this Board was seated and as was promised in print media by our interim superintendent.

  15. Jeff Parks says:

    Just stopped in to say FORENSIC AUDIT BY AN OUTSIDE AGENCY OR FIRM WITH NO TIES TO DCSS! School watch has it mostly right on the way ahead

  16. On another note: Has anyone seen a copy of the progress report that is due about now to AdvancED? The most recent progress report at the DCSS website is dated April 5, 2013:
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/advanced-sacs-accreditation-review/advanced-11-ra-status-report-%282013-04-03%29.pdf

    Going back to March 27, Ramona Tyson is quoted as saying, “On or before May 1, we will submit an institution status progress report to AdvancED,” Tyson said about SACS’ parent company. “That is the progress report they will read before they come for their official visit.”

    That visit will be in the second or third week of May, she said.

    “That time frame has been chosen simply because school ends at the end of May and we all get involved in the process of graduation,” Tyson said. Two months’ time is not enough to cross everything off their list, she said, nor does it have to be.

    “They have said to us, ‘We don’t expect everything to be completed before we come in May. That is not the important piece. The most important piece is that you show a plan and a timeline of completing the plan,’” Tyson said.

    Read More >> DeKalb school board sets new course

  17. Ramona’s April 5 update includes the following tentative Budget Development Process Calendar FY 2013-2014:

    1. Budget Work Session w/BOE to present budget draft April 17, 2013
    2. Tentative Budget to BOE for adoption April 19, 2013
    3. Public Budget Meeting April 23, 2013
    4. Public Budget Meeting April 25, 2013
    5. BOE adopts final budget May 15, 2013
    6. BOE adopts tentative property tax millage rate May15, 2013
    7. First Public Millage Hearing May 22, 2013
    8. Second Public Millage Hearing May 29, 2013
    9. Third Public Millage Hearing May 29, 2013
    10. BOE adopts final property tax millage June 12, 2013

    Looks like they are quite a bit behind their original schedule…

  18. whyaminotsurprised says:

    1) Any chance that surplus is related to the cell phone towers? If so, it shouldn’t be touched!

    2) For those of you who want an audit, just please don’t complain when the county has to pay for the audit. I appreciate most of the comments here, but sometimes it seems like folks complain about one thing, and then when they get what they wanted they complain about the negative side of that, too.

  19. info says:

    Please notice that this eliminated (?) furlough day appears to be devoted to “professional learning.”

    Parents, please let Thurmond and the board know that we (at least this teacher) want work days: time to plan, time to grade, etc…

    If the school system wants to offer professional learning to teachers, then it should be arranged the way such things are arranged for administration-off campus. And this is easily done on days when students are taking benchmarks or SLOs. The certified instructional force covers those days. No money for subs, no lost instructional time.

    I hope people also question the use of more than a million for “diagnostic testing.” If CRCT and Iowa scores aren’t diagnostic, what are they? What about the PSAT and the EOCT?

  20. From the AJC:

    Thurmond had more good news on Monday: He said his staff also found $7 million in unaccounted for revenue in the current fiscal year, for a total upside of nearly $30 million. DeKalb still has money trouble: The district has to pay down about $15 million in deficit spending from a couple of years ago, but officials cut a deal with the state to make payments over four years for a negligible effect on each budget.

    http://www.myajc.com/news/news/breaking-news/found-money-turns-dekalb-school-budget-from-shortf/nXjJ7/

  21. From the AJC –

    [Thurmond] said in a later interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the numbers “didn’t look right,” so he asked outside experts for guidance, and they suggested where to look.

    So this begs the question: What exactly ‘didn’t look right’ to Thurmond as he was looking over this $730+ million budget? Was it Thurmond who actually questioned the budget or someone else? [Thurmond is not a trained financial person.] What ‘outside experts’ did Thurmond consult? And how did they find so much money so quickly and easily?

  22. John Dewey III says:

    Seriously, what is it when the CEO “finds” seven million and the CFO “resigns” at the same time?
    “Dysfunction junction, what’s your function?”

  23. Steven says:

    The surplus has nothing to do with the Cell Towers. The income from the towers is so small that it will be lost in rounding errors on the budget.

  24. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Sorry, I just don’t get the 5.8 mil in afterschool funds. WTF?

    Also, in looking at the budget, I would like to hear more about the ($9.0mil) line item for System Wide School Scheduling efficiency under School Expenditures. Are they trying to capture future savings from the splost 4 enrollment consolidation schedule wholly in this one budget year instead of as the plan is now laid out over 5 years?
    And the $3.2mil decrease in budgeted Transportation expenditures.

  25. John Dewey III says:

    A complete forensic audit is obviously called for on the Turk / Perrone years — Shine a light into these corners and then sweep clean with a new broom ……………

  26. AL says:

    It’s inappropriate for board members and Thurmond to say they “don’t know” anything about this money or Perrone. Figure it out. You owe the truth to your constituents to be honest. That is what got us here in the first place. Too many “I don’t know’s” and not enough “This is why.”

    I am very concerned with Thurmond’s declaration of only adding one furlough day back while proposing “incentives” to bus drivers and support teams. Your job and your paycheck is your incentive. Who gets paid a bonus for showing up to work? Do the teachers get paid to show up and teach? Isn’t this the kind of thing you would do (bonuses) when you had the luxury of a massive surplus?

    I’ve noticed a trend with Thurmond of making comments about the bus drivers. They seem very important to him. Which is fine but it seems, to consistently be at the expense of the classroom. There’s an agenda here.

  27. Janet Pierce says:

    What severance package did Michael Perrone receive?

  28. Insider says:

    I have no doubt that Rick Cost was not responsible for the start of the downward financial slide. Not a wiff of impropriety has be noted around him in Gwinnett.

    He either read the tea leaves and saw the financial catastrophe coming, or bolted because he saw the corruption, bloat and inefficiency and realized that the captain of the ship was steering right towards the iceberg with his crew yelling “Full Speed Ahead!”

  29. insider1.0 says:

    A lot of the “found” money is actually general funds that the district had to front to the Title I department after they screwed up the budget so badly that the state wouldn’t approve it. Funds weren’t released to the schools until well into the second semester, but Title I funded staff and mandated programs like SFA had to be bankrolled all year long. General funds had to float those expenses until Title paid them back. Not only is that an accounting nightmare, it kept funds from being available to pay for school house needs. Ever wonder why schools couldn’t get toilet paper or basic supplies this year?

  30. Angry and fed up says:

    The after school program surplus funds belong to each individual school that has the program. Parents pay a weekly fee for their students to attend. These funds are to go DIRECTLY back into the school for programs, equipment, computers, extra curricular activities such as foreign language, art classes, chess, etc. If you are not a Title I school, this money is critical as it allows you to get things for your school that the county will no longer purchase or support. These funds are being stolen from the schools to balance the budget. They have also taken back the FTE dollars that were earned for the schools. All active purchase orders were rescinded and the money taken and put into the budget. THAT is where the money is coming from!!! Perrone left because he could not stomach this impropriety!!

  31. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Angry- is this factual or are you just supposing because I am going to the next meeting. I plan to speak at the public comment to bring up a couple of items.

    I knew it. I assumed this is what happened to create the surplus. But that is a lot of dough from each elementary school. Do they really have that much sitting around and not being used in the school house? That is ridiculous. This should be brought up at the next public comment and by the way, shouldn’t there actually be 2 more meetings because we just got this flim flam paperwork the other day.

  32. Concerned DeKalb Mom says:

    Angry is correct. Happened at our school.

  33. AL says:

    The county gets 10% from after-school programs. The schools keep the rest.

  34. Sunny says:

    Our school has a very successful After School program, run by a wonderful, caring staff which meets the needs of many of our families. The staff provides tutoring, art classes, chess lessons, foreign language classes, computer classes, homework help and physical/outdoor activities for the children. At the beginning of this school year, our school had a nice chunk of money in our After School account which had been growing for a few years. Unfortunately, each year this money is not authorized for our use until the school year is well under way – this year it was December before the money was made available – not a lot of time to go through the processes this county requires for approval to make purchases for the school and often times our requests have been denied. So there is still quite a large sum of money in our account.
    But now we hear from our Superintendent that he has decided to use our money to balance his budget. That is our money, earned at our school, in our successful After School program. The school system has already taken their portion (10%) from our program and all of the remaining money in our account should be used at our school for our children. Our After School program earned it – Mr. Thurmond did not. The DCSD should not be allowed to steal our money from our program. DCSD has already stolen the remaining balance of our “per pupil” money for this school year. This is the funding from the government to be used for the children in our building but somebody decided school was finished in April and we do not need to buy anything even though we still have children to teach and items to purchase for the last 2 months of the school year. This is money that we should have available to purchase all the paper required for these fabulous SLO tests which our elementary students are taking. And that is a blog for another day.

  35. Concerned Citizen says:

    Re: Thurmond’s preoccupation with the bus drivers – perhaps he’s going to marry one on the advice of Freeman.

  36. insider1.0 says:

    Regarding concerned citizen’s question about the Title I’s level of competence, the woman who was placed in charge last summer had no real experience in Federal Programs. It shows. Every major responsibility of that department has been a disaster this year and the schools are fed up. Its her way or the highway so no one dares to call her on it. Word is that Perrone hated her for causing problems with administration of the general fund and making it almost impossible for the schools to spend their Title funds.

  37. info says:

    So is this “budget fix” why interpreters were let go in January?

    Does this constitute the good “governance” SACS promotes?

  38. concernedmom30329 says:

    At the budget hearing, Thurmond made it clear that the After School money is listed as reserved for future projects. His and Bell’s point was that under good governmental accounting practices it has to be listed. McMahan said he had “recalculated” the budget without that number and Orson made it clear that this money has traditionally belonged to the schools.

    Here are the problems I heard. One, this money has accumulated for years. If I recall correctly, the trend of schools running their own after school programs began about 6-8 years ago. The question I have, excluding this year when the funds were frozen at some point, is how much of this money is really left over. it occurred to me during the discussion that it is possible that some principals or after school program directors weren’t using the funds. That is kind of inexcusable.

    Second, the system had not been taking its ten percent. This is a similar issue to the grant administration issue.

    Finally, Thurmond needs to clean house. There is a definite competence issue among several of the folks that Atkinson/March brought in with them.. Among my many concerns is that he doesn’t know enough about education to realize this. From running DFACs, he should know that grants administration is pretty straightforward and that should give him pause as to the level of incompetence that must exist.

  39. bettyandveronica1 says:

    May 15, 2013
    Pubic Budget Input Hearing (3:00pm)

    The last meeting about the buget was May 6th before the budget posted to the website on May 7th in the evening. Now there is only one public comment meeting until they adopt the tentative budget in June, TBD still. Seems to me they need to get the schedule out again. We need to carpet bomb them with emails about adding two more dates that are in the evening. Before they adopt a tentative budget. One meeting only at 3pm is farcical. There was no budget at the first two meetings. Now the CFO has resigned what does that tell us about the validity of this budget.

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