The buck stops with Thurmond. So says Michael Thurmond

In a recent interview with 11Alive news reporter Jon Shirek, Michael Thurmond stated that he is fixing our fiscal problems in part by hiring a new CFO.  [Point of clarity: Thurmond makes it sound as if the CFO he replaced was the one who oversaw the era of Pope/Lewis. However, the CFO Thurmond replaced, Mr. Perrone, was actually only hired about a year ago by Dr. Atkinson. He came to us from Jacksonville Florida schools and was a replacement for Marcus Turk, who was the CFO during the actual time that the alleged fraud and racketeering occurred. Turk was fired by Atkinson. Perrone resigned under Thurmond. Thurmond hired Michael Bell, with whom he had already been consulting.]

In the interview, Thurmond says to Shirek, “We’re working very hard to restore trust and integrity,” Thurmond said. “One of my primary directives from the Board who hired me was to look at the entire operation, from top to bottom, to create better accountability, improve fiscal management, so that we could be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars. We hired a new CFO who’s very experienced, and I’ve been very impressed by the work that he’s done up until this point.”

“On Monday, the superintendent’s office emailed to 11Alive News a list of the major developments, so far, that Thurmond believes will show that “we’re moving in the right direction, we’re addressing the discrepancies and the shortcomings wherever they may exist, to restore and rebuild the fiscal operations of this district.”

[According to Thurmond, so far he has:]

  • Instituted a mid-year FY2013 spending freeze.
  • Hired experienced Chief Financial Officer to lead fiscal reforms.
  • Developed, adopted and implementing a FY2014 balanced budget.
  • Eliminated the FY2012 all funds budget deficit ($13.9 Million).
  • Reduced FY2014 budget by $18.5 Million including $6 Million in legal fees.
  • Structured the FY2013 Monthly Financial Reports to the BOE on a GAAP basis.
  • Hired a Budget Manager and hiring a new Budget Analyst.
  • Purchased new School Based accounting software (Estimated rollout completion 7/1/2014).
  • Instituted rewrite of Accounting Standard Operating Procedures (Ongoing process).
  • Adopted procedures, policies and processes to address monitoring of internal controls.
  • Ended FY 2013 with DE046 General Fund Balance of $10.8 million.

Read more >> DeKalb school superintendent: ‘The buck stops with me’

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10 Responses to The buck stops with Thurmond. So says Michael Thurmond

  1. Dekalbite2 says:

    Where does he talk about his primary responsibility which is to improve the rate of student achievement – the only reason the school system exists and the only reason we pay school taxes?

  2. Another comment says:

    How can he claim any improvement when he has left virtually all of Crawford Lewis’s administrators in place. On top of that he has left Atkinsons crew in place. These are the same Friends and Family, that only cared about their own jobs. They turned a blind eye while the school system was being robbed blindly.

    The only way to show he is serious is to eliminate the Palace. Approve the Druid Hills Charter model. Have each high school cluster follow Druid Hills in a High school cluster model. Palace employees can reapply to the charters, with strict no-nepotism policies in place. Outreach must be made to bring the hiring of the district up to what the county is.

  3. EAV Mom says:

    Exactly Dekalbite! His entire list revolves around budget issues, but not one mention of a single thing to help our students. This Board and this Superintendent are exactly the same as the previous cast of characters in that none of them are concerned about the students.

  4. thedeal2 says:

    He also refuses to show us the details of all of these fiscal savings. He says he made all of these cuts to the central office, but he refuses to provide the details. Every sound bite has a different number of millions of dollars he has saved.

  5. Embarrassed Employee says:

    He has done absolutely nothing to improve student achievement, improve staff morale, or restoring confidence in the system. If he were serious, he would be trying to restore our pay to where it should be and reinstate our heAlth insurance assistance.

  6. midvaledad says:

    “We’re working very hard to restore trust and integrity,” Thurmond said.

    I am having a hard time seeing any of this so-called work. Is it in giving Ramona Tyson a $10,000 travel budget this year? Is it in paying Dr. Wilson $50,000 more than the top of the salary range for elementary principals? Is it in completing the Vanderlyn trailers 3 weeks after the start of the school year? Perhaps the work consists of the Bridge Initiative which (like all things that come from the Palace) contains no metrics and not one bit of accountability. Maybe the work was the 90 Day Plan which was taken down from the web site without any accounting to stakeholder. What ever happened with that?

    I know the work to restore trust and integrity does not include calling principals and demanding parents take tweets down. It also does not include more public comment sessions with no one writing down the comments.Restoring trust does not include demanding the BOE allow the superintendent be able to spend money without accountability regardless of the return on investment. Nor does integrity include failing to respond to Open Records requests within 3 days or completely ignoring them if they are inconvenient.

  7. Pingback: Trust: The missing link in DeKalb County Schools | dekalb school watch two

  8. dsw2contributor says:

    midvaledad – “Is it in paying Dr. Wilson $50,000 more than the top of the salary range for elementary principals?”

    The issue is not just Dr. Wilson; the issue is why are DCS employees who are “demoted” able to retain their salaries while moving back down into lower level jobs? Dr. Wilson is not the only one; to find the others, download the salary list for DCS from, sort it by job title and then compare salaries for people with the same jobs.

  9. howdy1942 says:

    Wow! Just WOW! Let’s start with a couple of questions:

    1. What exactly happened with the old Chief Financial Officer? Why did he “leave”? Was he not “competent”?

    2. If all of these wonderful financial events have occurred, then why don’t you allow an independent outside auditor to look at the books and present its findings to the public?

  10. teachermom says:

    I too have a hard time understanding why they move people out of jobs and don’t adjust their salaries. Thurmond has shown no willingness to adjust CO salaries that were inflated during previous administrations. He has shown no move towards fixing the accounting practice that balanced funds by to taking and taking again from teachers via furlough days, frozen pay scales, and the removal of the matched retirement savings fund. I guess I should not really be that surprised considering that he was put in his job by the previous administration, after all.

    Teachers will continue to leave as long as they see the total lack of interest in restoring their compensation to market levels.

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