Check out the various ways Michael Thurmond has taken from children (the classroom and teachers) in order to ‘balance’ the budget and build the reserves >>
Yes, it’s true, Michael Thurmond has been able to wrangle the nearly bankrupt DeKalb schools budget and bring us back into the black, but it hasn’t been due to responsible spending or cuts to administrative staff. It is due to the cuts placed on the backs of teachers and other ordinary staff that spend their days directly in contact with our students, ensuring that learning is occurring.
We have compiled a fairly extensive list for you to think about when you hear that the ‘budget is balanced’ and we are on the road to recovery. You should thank a teacher, a media clerk, a cafeteria worker, a bus driver or a maintenance worker for the very deep sacrifices they have been forced to endure in order to return the books to the safe zone pleasing to SACS.
So, how did Thurmond do it?
- By continuing not to fund the teachers annuities (tens of millions saved here)
- Lowering the daily rate of many teachers – especially those with experience
- Using substitute teachers sparingly in 2013 [and reducing the daily rate of the ones they did hire] and instead making teachers often cover each other when out sick, using their planning periods to juggle the sub spot
- Not hiring qualified teachers to fill vacant positions and instead using international teacher placement companies that do not treat their teachers well and who pay their teachers less, with no benefits, no retirement and no sick pay – while siphoning off large finder fees and administrative fees from those teachers
- Continuing to spend less on direct classroom expenditures than the 65% required by law. Page 4 in the Board document found at this link is DeKalb County Schools’ letter requesting a retroactive waiver allowing a reduction in the minimum required classroom spending from 65% of the total DCS budget to 61% of the total DCS budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. Four percent of 1 billion (total DCS consolidated budget rounded off for convenience) is $40,000,000.
- Using a waiver to increase class size – which saved a lot money, but was detrimental to learning. Class size is a tax on teachers – they have to do more work – with more papers to grade, more parents to inform and more students to manage as individual learners. Large classes effect teacher morale, classroom discipline and overall learning for all. Read more here about the plans to reduce class size in FY2015, but know this: Michael Thurmond saved millions in the budget by simply continuing to maintain class sizes above state levels – requiring a waiver.
- Healthcare costs for teachers and staff are going up – as the school district saves money by passing those costs directly back on the employees.
- Severely cutting spending on books
- Severely cutting spending on computers
- Not being truthful as to the number of computers accessible for student use and the upcoming state testing (Brantley stated we have 30,000 computers, but if that includes teachers and staff, you can take off at least 5,000 – maybe 10,000 leaving only 20,000-25,000 for student use) Inventory is never published, we are just left to believe Brantley. In addition, this does not come close to what has been said to have been spent on computers on SPLOST reports over the years
- Spending money on cars for area administrators – area superintendents
- Hiring more area administrators + – area superintendents (did he order them new cars too?)
- Hoarding Title 1 funds into the central office and mismanaging them so badly as to have to return $2.5 million the federal government had given DeKalb for poor children
- Selling off property and posting the proceeds into the general fund
- Spending $50,000 a month on MLA law firm for “Board training” – that obviously didn’t happen
- Earmarking $2.5 million to sue the Druid Hills Charter Cluster yet still counting it as being in the general fund, rather than as allocated to legal fees
- Counting a tax windfalls in the general fund such as the big increase in property tax collection to the budget due to the increase in home values and the fact that the Board refused to lower the millage rate to give homeowners the increase back that was imposed by the 2012 Board during the “Great Recession”.
- Along with the fact that the millage was never rolled back even after the community college run by DCSS became part of the state college system and is funded by he state college system.
- Heery Settlement – 2 weeks after the settlement, DeKalb Schools had the check in the bank. 2 weeks after that, it was appropriated. In spite of this windfall and others, very little of the mid year adjustment went to the classroom last year.