Pay Differential between DCSD and APS

We were forwarded some information from an annexation supporter regarding the pay differential between DeKalb and Atlanta public schools for teachers. There are a lot of rumors and misinformation swirling around regarding the cost to teachers and taxpayers if the Druid Hills area were to annex into Atlanta. Below is at least a bit of factual info for teachers.


Given that some areas of DeKalb County may end up in different school districts if voters in those areas are given the opportunity to cast a “small d” democratic ballot about their local government, it makes sense for teachers whose “work location” schools may end up in a new district to know what the pay differences are between DeKalb and their potential new employer.

Below is a 2014-2015 comparison of the DCSD and APS salary scales and ranges for teachers, media specialists, paraprofessionals, assistant principals, and principals. These charts do not address differences in benefits, which a cursory review suggests APS benefits are more substantial than DeKalb.

In light of how the “at-issue for annexation” schools performed on the CCRPI and School Climate Ratings, it would be reasonable for one to assume that APS and its new, competent leadership will be happy to welcome these schools and teachers into the APS fold. Dr. Carstarphen, by all measures seems incredibly bright and more creative, collaborative, interactive, and competent than any metro super in recent memory. She and her team, including former KIPP Executive Director, David Jernigan (KIPP is designed to serve all students, regardless of socio-economic status, to the highest level possible), will be extremely lucky to have the input and demonstrated skills of the superb teachers and leadership at Briar Vista, Fernbank, and Druid Hills HS. Those skilled, sought-after teachers should be aware of the following salary differences. Note that DeKalb also lists its salaries in daily amounts that are not included in this table.


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24 Responses to Pay Differential between DCSD and APS

  1. Charlie Ray says:

    Wow, $7,500.00 more per year. Where do I sign up?

  2. dekalbteacher says:

    Teachers’ pensions are determined by our two highest paying years, so everyone should also think about how many more teachers are going to jump ship when they realize that their annual salary and their retirement suffer when they choose to work for DCSD rather than any other metro area school district.

  3. We certainly must mention, it is not a ‘given’ that the teachers currently teaching these DeKalb students will automatically become employees of Atlanta. Without a doubt, people will need to apply. Teachers’ contracts are with DeKalb county schools, not a particular school. Given our huge shortage of teachers, which is so bad that our HR staff has to pay millions to international teacher supply companies to fill empty teaching slots, we predict that transfers would be quite easy to get if you stay in DeKalb.

  4. Think before you leap says:

    It’s important to note that the current teachers at Briar Vista, Fernbank and Druid Hills HS will not necessarily be teaching at their current schools if these schools belong to APS. Teachers, administrators, paras, etc,. will have to apply to APS and I don’t think it is certain that they would get their position back automatically, unless some kind of deal has been made they nobody except the deal makers are aware of. Smooth transition, it will not be…

  5. H.A. Hurley says:

    The charter movement is about to hit APS. Once a charter system, the pay scale and all regulations are their call and the call of the corporate profiteers who fund and profit from charters. KIPP is stratigically placed second in command, no accident. KIPP charters claim closing the achievement gaps, but they ‘cherrypick’ which kids they serve, which kids can survive the ‘No Excuses’ harsh discipline — leaving SpEd, Poor kids, ELL & discipline children in the neighborhood schools.
    What concerns me at this point, DCS is what it is, the new APS is unknown to me, Gov. Deal is going to succeed with State takeover & those schools will be converted to corporate funded charters, Annexation is an unknown for residents and taxpayers, Mayor Reed is a piece of work,
    Corporate profiteers are literally buying up schools, systems, states, not because they love black and brown children and their education… It is all because the testing industry is so profitable nationally and internationally. Our kidlets are GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS for them!
    I wish I were making this up, or I am just paranoid…nope, it is real! All over the country with Arne Duncan steering that ship.

    Great books:
    Mercedes Schneider, PhD – A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education
    Diane Ravitch, PhD – Reign of Error
    Anthony Cody – The Educator And The Oligarch: A Teacher Challenges The Gates Foundation

  6. @Hurley: Yes, Beware of Charter systems – it’s a national trend and we are also concerned about the corporate interests in ‘education’ – a multi-Billion dollar business! In fact, Michael Thurmond has been trying to make DeKalb into a charter system. And in fact, DeKalb is full of magnet, theme, and charter schools that pull top tier students away from their home schools. Read all about how many students transferred out of their neighborhood schools, leaving behind only those without the knowledge, parent leadership, transportation or ability to make a change.

    North vs Central vs South – what’s the deal?

    These numbers are from 2010. We suggest they are even higher now, due to the addition and growth of more charters: Leadership Prep, The Museum School, etc.

  7. FormerDekalbTeacher says:

    Dekalb basically pays the state minimum. You could go anywhere in the state have better benifits and make the same money with less headaches.

  8. In fact, why wouldn’t you go somewhere else? Because DeKalb County Schools does not pay into Social Security for full-time certified teachers, if you are eligible for Social Security based on your own work record prior to working for and retiring from DCS OR based on your spouse’s work record, you will take a HUGE hit on the amount of Social Security you will receive. If you have worked only for DCS, you will get NO Social Security since DCS does not pay into Social Security. This is serious stuff. This actually has happened to one of our DSW editors. Quite frankly, we cannot understand why there is not more outcry among teachers about this injustice. If you are happy with the state minimum wage for teachers, at least go somewhere that pays better and sock away as much of that extra money as allowed in a Roth IRA. Put the rest of the extra money you are earning into a safe investment You will be glad you did!

  9. teachermom says:

    Teachers are leaving, at my school, and at others. I know of several top notch teachers at my school who are for sure going or are trying to go. We will see the impact over the next few years as more find the door (it is difficult to leave a district due to long application processes and short contract turn arounds). We just got an email saying that we will get our new contracts, I think, March 23rd. The turnaround is just a week or so. In the fall they will try to hide the teacher shortages again by getting subs and bringing in international teachers. At one high school there was no teacher for several subjects the first few weeks as they scrambled to fill those positions. Its a mess but all of the outcry in the world is not fixing it.

  10. Sadly, what you say is very true, teachermom. We hear this over and over again.

    BTW – if any former teacher left DeKalb and was forced to pay a $750 fine, please write to us at – we have been contacted by legal reps against this fine. You ‘may’ be able to recover your fine.

  11. H.A. Hurley says:

    Teachers paying into TRS & eligible for TRS retirement are not elegible for Social Security (regardless if paid into SS, earned all quarters, or having a spouse who paid & received SS).
    Bad Deal!
    Check with the Social Security office, but I know many teachers who are not able to receive SS$, even if paid into SS, or a spouce who paid into it, or passed – no spousal benefits.

    Another thing to be concerned about: many places want to get rid of teacher pensions. Corporate billionaire profiteer$ bleeding states dry as part of the public school privatization movement and bashing teachers. Charters don’t have to hire certified teachers, pay into teacher retirement, and they love to hire Teach4America kids who leave after a couple of years.
    Not making this up. Please educate yourselves.

  12. True – this is called the Windfall Elimination Provision. We have written about it often. Here’s a good post on the subject>>

    TSA: A Story of Betrayal and Greed

    Put Social Security Windfall in our search bar to find more.
    Posted on August 15, 2013

  13. Reblogged this on Midwaywoods Gentrification in Atlanta and commented:

    One little problem with this article. DeKalb teachers aren’t guaranteed a position. With Atlanta School Board their teachers would be first in line to take these positions and more than likely all the DeKalb teachers WILL BE OUT OF A JOB! This scale below is little consolation if they are unemployed OR must move to a school in another school or into another district.

  14. @Midway: It’s very doubtful DeKalb teachers would be out of a job. Very doubtful. Are you aware that we have such a huge teacher shortage that the HR department had to spend over $3 million to hire a placement firm to place international teachers in unfilled positions? Our HR department is so overloaded with vacancies to fill that they have to farm out the hiring!

  15. Same old same old says:

    You keep mentioning the amount of money that is spent on international teachers to fill empty spots. Please know that those are for math, science, and special education positions that have become virtually impossible to fill. For ALL districts. You will not see these teachers in elementary schools or in the language arts, social studies, or non-core content areas. Unless a DeKalb secondary level teacher is certified for math, science or special education, its not likely they will get a desirable position in Atlanta OR DeKalb after the annexation. Teachers who apply to APS and get a contract will go to any school that district see fit to place them in. Teachers who stay in DeKalb will be in the same boat. Frying pan or fire.

  16. Yes, that’s the way contracts work in DeKalb as well. Contracts are with the system, not with a particular school. And yes, teachers in the schools affected by annexation, if it occurs, could very possibly end up teaching in another school most likely, be it a DeKalb school, an Atlanta school or a school in another district.

    We would like to know exactly where these international teachers are placed. If the school district would respond to Open Records Requests on such information, it would be helpful. But they claim it’s a personnel issue and not to be shared. So we are left to believe what you and they say.

  17. dekalbteacher says:

    Same old same old,

    Yes, rural districts do struggle to fill science, math, and special education positions. However, I don’t think filling these positions in the metro area is impossible as you claim. Sure there are more certified humanities instructors, but we have Georgia Tech, major corporations, and five universities that prepare teachers all within a bus ride’s reach of DeKalb’s and APS’s schools.

    Why would anyone who can teach in a needed field choose to work for DeKalb and make so much less money? People wanting the convenience of working at a school their children attend or will attend might, especially if this is their second career. People wanting a school close to where they live might if they value this convenience. There will also be people who genuinely want to try to teach struggling students, of which DeKalb has many, but how many stick around? I’d be interested to see retention rates for other metro school districts, especially in more functional school districts like Gwinnett and Cobb.

  18. howdy1942 says:

    I wish that our school board could, for once, stop thinking of themselves and the administration and start thinking about the needs of the classroom. We need to immediately take action to bring our teachers to a level of compensation at least on par with that of the Atlanta Public School System and that of Gwinnett. We need to take immediate action to get our classroom sizes down at least 10%. If we don’t find the financial resources to that these actions, then we are going to have less financial resources because people are not going to stand for the system we have now. Focus our financial resources on the classroom, exceed 65%!

  19. Same old same old says:

    DeKalbteacher, I’m not defending DeKalb in any way. They are digging their own grave with their disregard for teachers. However, I work with many metro districts and hiring for high demand subjects is a problem all over. Rural districts are less likely to have an issue because many of their teachers are home grown. It is rare to see someone who went to Georgia Tech apply for a job as a middle school math teacher. When we were deep in the two recessions and everyone was laying off staff you would find people who worked for Delta or Georgia Pacific in classrooms – but only until the economy improved. And special education teachers (competent or not) can’t be found for love or money. Not only are fewer people getting degrees in special services, when the state forced all special education teachers to get certified in general education core content area a few years back it backfired. once they passed the GACE, teachers of exceptional children realized that for the same pay they could teach general education classes! Until DeKalb starts to pay competitive rates they will miss out on good teachers of any type. If they wish to hire math and science teachers from the US they will have to go above and beyond the going rate. If they want special education teachers they will have to open the coffers wide and train their own. Don’t believe me? Look at the websites for other metro districts and see what’s posted. Although most have taken down the postings by now because they recognize that the jobs won’t be filled this year.

  20. @Same old: This is what happens in DeKalb to math teachers with a degree from Georgia Tech >>

    Saturday, January 16, 2010
    Did Frankie Callaway encourage cheating and then hurriedly retire?

    Frankie Callaway (a $165,000 Deputy Superintendent) apparently asked a “Ms. Patricia Patterson” last May to change her statement about pressuring a teacher to alter the grades of a certain student who had under-performed and skipped school, yet still expected to graduate at Redan HS. Astonishingly, she did graduate – thanks to some magic grade changing by someone. When DCSS began an investigation, (prompted by WSB’s investigation) Callaway requested that Patterson “clarify” or change her statement to school investigators. Patterson did, stating that “I have made the changes you requested. The changes are actually counter to the facts.” Georgia Tech educated teacher, Kesha Lanier left the school system in protest due to this grade-changing event. And guess who DCSS asked the state to investigate, saying she acted unethically? You got it – the teacher – Ms. Lanier. Not Ms. Patterson and certainly not Frankie Callaway. Nope – she retired one week after “clarifying” her own statement to investigators. A school spokesman told Richard Belcher, “Dr. Callaway retired and there are no documents to the contrary. She had 34 years of wonderful service.”

  21. Word Wall says:

    A Dekalb County teacher with ten years experience will earn $10,000 less than an Atlanta Public schools teacher.

  22. downtown dekalb? says:

    If you’re a 30-year-old teacher with a Bachelor’s degree and you don’t even plan on adding a Master’s or Doctorate, just by the time you’re 45 years old, you will have earned well over $150,000 more over those 15 years (assuming current scales do not change and not adjusted for inflation). The differences in budgeting approaches and priorities between APS under Carstarphen and DeKalb under Thurmond are staggering. Compare Thurmond’s go-to position of “more for the lawyers” to APS: and

    Those differences are significant and undeniably will have a direct effect on teachers and students.

  23. Even Teach for America’s students won’t come to a place like Dekalb. My nephew and his girlfriend both NYU grads are both doing Teach for America stints a Math teachers in Boston. The Union districts up in Boston pay a lot more than the Districts in the South. Mass. Sill is the number one school state in the country. My nephew was his class valedictorian and class presidident. He had a full ride to NYU.

    The Peace corps doesn’t take enough applicants anymore, so this is the new Peace Corp for those who want a true Public service career.

  24. downtown dekalb? says:

    Today Gwinnett announced bumps in teacher salaries in an effort to fill the 175 open teaching positions it has. The APS FY16 budget includes 66% of money being spent on classroom instruction (exceeding the state requirement from which DeKalb perennially wants a waiver), a 5% reduction in central administration expenses, and . . . wait, sit down and breathe . . . $10 million allocated to principals to use as they believe will best fit the needs of their schools. Oh, and APS has a pension liability task force that’s been meeting for about a year to come up with reasonable solutions to a challenge every local governmental entity across the country is facing: unfunded pension liability. Does anyone know where DCSD is on the pension issue?

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