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. Great post on the subject at Dunwoody Talk Blog:

    In part:

    The other SACS complaint and reason for placing the district on probation was due to financial issues. Claims were made the Board mismanaged funds. This was not true with a deficit and not true with the new false surplus. It was the central office employees (hired and kept in place by the Board) that were/are incompetent. And under Thurmond they are not going away so we are right where we were a year ago. But the BIG NEWS is that the DeKalb School System is not broke, but in fact has a surplus of $27 million dollars, $7 million of ‘found’ money. This is Exhibit A for Gene Walker. There was no financial wrong-doings under Walker’s watch is what we will be told, and he now has 7 million pieces of evidence. But those of you new to DeKalb doings realize there is no surplus. These funds were mostly set aside dollars for after school programs and funds used for active boards and books. This $27 million was simply moved from schools to the general fund. A shameful accounting trick no doubt. But hey, we have a $27 million surplus. Tell that to the kids and parents and teachers suffering in this corrupt school system.

    Of course we have a new CFO. The prior CFO pulled a disappearing act as soon as the $7 million was “discovered”. The former CFO was doing too good of a job, that’s most likely why he is gone. His replacement was CFO under Vernon Jones.

    As Mr. Walker awaits his Due Process (something not granted to him or the other Board members when they were removed from office), he will continue to orchestrate his plan of discovering evidence, all from the sidelines. The governor, the local political posse, and Mr. Elgart, like all before them, will be out maneuvered by one of the best.

    Touché, Mr. Walker.

    Read the entire post here>> Exhibit A for Gene Walker Trial Just Submitted

  2. Dekalbite2 says:

    But the BOE approved all of those budgets so they are ultimately responsible. The buck must stop somewhere and in DeKalb it stops with the BOE. Mr. Walker and his fellow BOE members hired Lewis, Tyson, Atkinson and Thurmond so they are responsible for anything that occurred/occurs on the superintendent’s watch. Read the BOE minutes to see where the BOE that hired Lewis said they couldn’t afford to fund the position of Internal Auditor. The BOE approves all policy, procedures, and programs and approves every hire by the superintendent who is their employee. They also have approval over every dollar of expenditures in the school system. This is a powerful group. With power comes responsibility and accountability. The BOE members have always wanted power without accountability. The BOE having the power with no responsibility has proved disastrous for students. They are ultimately responsible for the hiring of inept superintendents and approving their budgets that gutted the classroom and tanked student achievement.

  3. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    The voters are ultimately responsible. They elected the BOE which hired the Superintendent and approved those budgets. It’s about the tyranny of the majority either way.

  4. concernedmom30329 says:

    And most of this isn’t really found money. It is reallocation. So Title 1 schools will get less next year, to cover the administrative costs of the program. Totally appropriate and realistic and good management. But Thurmond and his found money is just baloney because he isn’t being totally honest about the impact of all this money.
    The one that strikes me as most worrisome is the half million that appears to need to come from lunch program. Many are speculating that this means that less will be spent on food and the quality is already bad. Insight anyone…

  5. dekalbite2 says:

    @DeKalb Inside and Out
    “The voters are ultimately responsible….”
    Voters are subject to laws put in place to protect the minority and the weaker members of society – e.g. in this case – children. The law that gives the governor the power to remove Board members of school systems that are about to lose accreditation is an example of this. The ultimate decider will be the judicial system. The judicial system must weigh the rights of the elected officials against the rights of the children to have a adequate education (guaranteed in the Georgia Constitution).

  6. dekalbite2 says:

    @concernedmom30329

    “So Title 1 schools will get less next year, to cover the administrative costs of the program. Totally appropriate and realistic and good management.”

    That’s how Lewis presented it to the BOE when he put Ms. Berry in charge and so much of the money went to the administration of the program and so little went to the schools.

  7. Ella Smith says:

    This is all interesting. However, I am a believer that any additional money needs to go back into the classroom.

    Learning occurs in the classroom so let’s sent the money where it really matters.

  8. bettyandveronica1 says:

    FYI I emailed board and sup. three questions this morning. I got a response today on two of them from Stephen Wilkins and referred to ms. March on the other.

  9. concernedmom30329 says:

    What kind of questions? what were the answers?

  10. teachermom says:

    It is nice to see Thurmond acknowledge all of those folks who lost their livelihood due to the reckless cutting that happened last summer. Sick making but a necessary reflection:

    http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-education/dekalb-schools-chief-overlooked-money-could-have-s/nXnwN/?icmp=ajc_internallink_invitationbox_apr2013_ajcstubtomyajcpremium

  11. disgusted teacher says:

    1 FURLOGH DAY RESTORED?1?!? I will look for employment elsewhere DeKalb. This is the last straw and the last slap in my face.

  12. September says:

    This money definitely needs to go back into the classroom. We lost valuable teachers and support staff. I think this negatively impacts student achievement. Lower class sizes. Rehire kindergarten paras and library clerks.

  13. SRO says:

    So out of a billion dollar budget DeKalb only has $100,000 in the bank….outrageous…

    http://www.wsbtv.com/videos/news/dekalb-school-officials-explain-budget-surplus/v2m25/

  14. SRO says:

    Remember kids “Victory is in every classroom”!!!

  15. bettyandveronica1 says:

    I asked about the decrease in transportation budget year to year, he said I was misreading the chart, ( I freely admit I am no accountant so I most likely am reading it wrong). The account reflects two departments, facilities and transportation. They bought some buses. One time occurrence under a state program. I haven’t looked further at this yet.
    I asked about the after school funds he said it will be up to the board to decide whether or not the funds will be directed back to the schools or become part of the district general funds. It is in a reserve account now. It is also for the board to determine how these funds will be handled in the future.
    He answered my two questions and then I asked about the $9.0M credit on the budget under schools for School Efficiency plan. He responded that my question needed to be directed to Ms. March. He sent my question to her and I should hear back from her directly or get an email for her explanation. I am hoping to hear from her soon.

    IMO, Aftercare funds: Why give the system a revenue source for all the hard work the teachers do to make this a somewhat tolerable situation for the kids who have to stay in aftercare? Why should the school system at large profit from this school house function? I think DCSS has enough money.
    As it was before, it helped the parents and the parents understood this was a good thing for the school, they scratched each others back. These programs will dwindle if the funds are not kept locally and once again it’s the kids who will suffer. Some schools do choose to hire YMCA to do this program and that is their choice. There is nothing wrong with doing this but providing a service by the teachers allows for more flexibility in the program and the school can purchase items the county will not.

  16. Thanks for the info BettyandVeronica. We are wondering – were they able to cut the $2 million from the magnet transportation approved during the last budget cuts? (Remember, they were going to cut $4m but only would cut half of the magnet transportation.)

  17. bettyandveronica1 says:

    That was my first assumption but apparently that is not an issue.

  18. dekalbite2 says:

    Fernbank Science Center is budgeted for almost $200,000 more this year.
    2013:
    $2,546,217

    2014:
    $2,743,171

    FSC currently has 20 admin and support for 20 science teachers who are out in the schools most days. One or two great science lessons a year will not ensure most students master most science concepts.

    Look at how many DeKalb students ARE NOT on grade level in science based on the 2013 CRCTs:
    Grade 3 34.9%
    Grade 4 31.6%
    Grade 5 37.4%
    Grade 6 40.4%
    Grade 7 29.8%
    Grade 8 43.3%

    Why aren’t we closing this center or requiring them to get funding on their own? Redirect those millions to hire classroom science teachers who will teach science every day to students. No other metro school system supports a science center, and they all have better science achievement including Atlanta and Clayton.

    Look at Rockdale County Schools, a model of efficiency and a master at putting their money in the classrooms. EVERY school in Rockdale County is a Title 1 school, but compare their rate of students NOT ON grade level in science with DeKalb’s:
    Grade 3 16.4%
    Grade 4 12.6%
    Grade 5 16.5%
    Grade 6 25.1%
    Grade 7 11%
    Grade 8 21%

    DeKalb’s science achievement scores are the lowest of any of the content areas tested for our students. What is Mr. Thurmond’s plan for ensuring almost 97,000 DeKalb students master science content. He talks about STEM (science, technology, math, engineering and math) as the job producers for our students when they reach adulthood, but how is he ensuring that happens? His not funding the science or math classrooms that teach science and math to the same students every day is a sure fire way to decrease student content mastery of these absolutely critical areas even further.

    Take a look at the percentage of DCSS students CANNOT perform basic math computations on grade level:
    Grade 3 29.8%
    Grade 4 31%
    Grade 5 25.6%
    Grade 6 25.8%
    Grade 7 18%
    Grade 8 33.6%

    Mr. Thurmond needs to adequately fund the classroom and then use the money left over to fund his admin and support and special projects and programs. That’s what the data tells him.

    Mr. Thurmond’s primary job function is to improve student achievement. That is the sole reason the school system exists and that there is a position called the Superintendent of DeKalb County Schools. If Mr. Thurmond and the BOE adequately fund the classroom and support teachers, student achievement will improve and SACS accreditation will be a moot point. This budget does not look like student achievement is his primary goal. We’ll soon see if this new Board agrees with him.

  19. If the afterschool money goes to the district and not to the schools, than it seems that schools and teachers should stop offering this service to parents. More parents need to be aware of what is happening and by keeping things status quo, most parents don’t have a clue.

  20. bettyandveronica1 says:

    I assume the teachers will rethink their dedication to offering their time. I believe they are paid out of the funds for working this program. Times are tight so they may not give it up just now. But I ask people to understand, this is an important issue. The county has made the decision to seize this money and spend how they wish. It is entirely inappropriate. It is piracy. This smacks of 3-4 people sitting around in the room late at night discovering that they are “entitled” to this money because they say so.

    I have seen kids that are sitting in the school cafeteria, in a program not run by the school, bored to tears. All they do is homework and play a bit outside. If teachers are able to run these programs they have specific knowledge of the kids in the school and know what could make a difference. Allowing for days in the library, special clubs, etc. Other programs can’t really do more than just make sure the kids are safe and homework done.

    Spending an extra 15-20 hours at school a week just waiting on mom/dad to come get you gets real old real fast. Kids get in trouble real quick.

  21. thedeal2 says:

    I rarely defend the administration or county-level people, but I don’t think anyone is talking about the county taking all of the after-care money so that teachers or other employees are not paid for working it. The county currently takes its 10% off the PROFIT after teachers, program people (chess, drama, art) and custodial staff have been paid. I watched the budget hearing. Once it was clarified to Thurmond that schools count on this money, he quickly backed off and simply and properly asked that a policy be written to spell out the split. Of all the things going on, I don’t think this is the one to get your feathers ruffled about.

  22. @thedeal: Where did you see Thurmond back away from claiming this money for the general funds? We missed the meeting you are talking about — can you clarify?

  23. concernedmom30329 says:

    I agree with The Deal. I watched the meeting. Thurmond was quick to point out that those funds were listed in the budget as reserved for future projects, or something like that. However, he and Bell repeatedly said that governmental accounting requires that funds like this be listed on the budget. That is why it is listed.
    However, these funds are included in the surplus, which I guess they technically have to be, but if you take these funds out (excluding the 10 percent), then things aren’t so rosy.
    In fact, Orson and Mcmahon were very clear that this money belongs to the schools that earned them. Mcmahon even said that he was backing that money out of the budget when he reviewed it for himself. But until the policy is adopted, I remain skeptical.
    One last thing, I know my kids’ school is really good at using the money. After school programs have only been run by the schools for the last 7ish years or so. I wonder how all this money was allowed to accrue. (I know why bother asking…)

  24. psdad says:

    Based on conversations with the principal of our elementary school. This wasn’t just the 10% of after school funds that the county was entitled to… the county took every dime of savings that the school had accrued for these programs. Our school had been saving for special equipment for group projects that our after school program conducts and spent the money days before the county came looking for it.

  25. Concerned Citizen says:

    DeKalbite2 – Very correct! You don’t even have to be a financial expert to see that the budget is not at all focused on students and teachers. What can we do to stop him and Ramona?

  26. All in all – the main point we are concerned about is that NO ONE TRACKS whether or not these “cuts” were actually made. Year after year, we can find areas where many of the Board-approved cuts were either not made, or made and then certain ‘riffed’ employees were immediately rehired or the money was simply spent elsewhere. It appears that no one is actually minding their budgets and therefore, we continue to dig ourselves deeper and deeper in arrears year over year.

    This is a quote from the KPMG audit commissioned by former superintendent, Cheryl Atkinson:

    10. The Board approved a budget reduction on May 10, 2010, whereby the District was to eliminate 150 Central Office positions. Our analysis revealed 122 termed employees (as of June 30, 2010) and 33 previously vacated positions. Of the 122 termed employees, 56 were either immediately reassigned or rehired during FY11.

    Find the entire report here>> https://dekalbschoolwatch.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/dekalb-county-school-district_report_12072012.pdf

  27. This new article in the Dunwoody Crier explains the ‘found’ money pretty clearly:

    DeKalb schools avoid tax hike with found money

    In part >>

    At a public meeting in early May, Perrone outlined more than $14 million in increased costs, and revenue numbers that were essentially flat. But DeKalb has since discovered more than $26 million in additional revenue, more than enough to make up the deficit, avoid a tax increase and restore some of the prior cuts.

    Michael Perrone has resigned, disappeared from public view and been replaced by Dr. Michael Bell, a former CFO at the city of Atlanta and DeKalb County government.

    Before his abrupt departure last week, Perrone had said the district’s shortfall would be due to increases in the state’s teacher retirement system of $3.8 million, a $7.4 million increase in health benefits, state-mandated salary increases of $1.3 million and $2.2 million for a new charter school. More than $14 million in increased costs could not be absorbed by any increase in revenue, Perrone said, because revenues from property and ad valorem taxes were either decreasing or flat.

    Interim School Superintendent Michael Thurmond told board members on May 6 that he had “re-re-validated” the budget numbers and was “able to capture an additional $21 million” in revenue and “changed the trajectory of how we looked at the budget.”

    Perrone resigned the next day.

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