The DCSD budget is still nothing but a shell game

Wake Up and Smell the CoffeeLayering on top of our last post, A raise for teachers hides the truth about the extreme rise in administrative costs in DeKalb, we would like to dive a bit into some budget irregularities that one of our contributors has been able to organize into an easy-to-understand chart. Once again, we can see that despite the rhetoric, and the press releases, Michael Thurmond is just another superintendent who has presided over a long-term session of cuts to the classrooms and major increases in administrative jobs and costs. It’s simply the ‘same thing but different’. It matters not; Cheryl Atkinson, Ramona Tyson, Crawford Lewis and now Michael Thurmond have not reduced their administrative costs one iota and have in fact, increased them exponentially, all while cutting supplies to the classroom, contributions to teachers’ pensions and increasing teachers’ student load and demands.

In the interest of showing all the relevant information regarding how DeKalb County Schools spent money in fiscal year 2014, a basic analysis was done using the GaDOE “School System Financial Reports.”  These reports are compiled from the form DE46 which each school system submits after they “close the books” on a fiscal year. The School System Financial Report includes seven categories of expenditure; Instruction, Pupil Services, Staff Services, General Administration, School Administration, Transportation, and Maintenance & Operations. These, as well as Total Expenditures, are reported both as a total amount and on a per FTE (student) amount.

In the table below the Budgeted amounts were found by adding any mid-year adjustments to the approved budget. The Actual amounts were taken from the GaDOE School System Financial Reports.


When you add the deficits seen in Instruction and Pupil Services, you find a total of $22,393,428 was budgeted, but not spent, on student instruction and activities designed to support student instruction.

This table also shows DeKalb County Schools spent more than double the budgeted amount for General Administration. This is defined by the GaBOE, in part,  as “activities performed by the superintendent, administrative support personnel, and deputy, associate, or assistant superintendent having overall administrative responsibility.” In other words, the central office.

This was Superintendent Thurmond’s budget. His staff spent the money. The BOE provided NO oversight because when they asked relevant questions, the staff wouldn’t answer them. One such question was regarding the more than $2 million requested for “Additional School Based Salary and Benefits” requested in the mid year budget adjustment. Both Dr. Bell and Dr. Smith refused to say what that money was for. The question now is, why was that money requested when more than $13 million was not spent on instruction?

This is being shared to help the BOE understand why they need to step up their oversight of the budget. One Board member has stated, repeatedly, her belief that questioning the staff is not their role and the BOE needs to “let them do their jobs.”

Fiscal year 2014 showed what happens when there continues to be NO oversight of how DeKalb County Schools spends money.  Observers of DeKalb Schools know fiscal year 2015 is being managed in exactly the same way.

Superintendent Thurmond did not put as much money into the classrooms as he promised. The per FTE amount spent on instruction in fiscal year 2014 was just $53 more than the per FTE amount spent during fiscal year 20003. The BOE needs to hold him accountable.


Wake up and smell the coffee! We simply must hire an experienced, education-based, classroom-focused superintendent to lead us into the light of a quality classroom in every space. This is our one last chance. The status quo must end and the spending balance must tip heavily into the classroom, while deeply cutting costs associated with administrative jobs. The children are counting on us. The budget holds the key.

Please contact your BOE representative and politely ask them to provide an increased level budget oversight.

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This entry was posted in Board of Education Meetings, Budget Cuts, DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, Michael Thurmond, Ramona Howell Tyson, School Funding, Superintendent Cheryl Howell Atkinson, Superintendent Search and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The DCSD budget is still nothing but a shell game

  1. scared says:

    I am deadly afraid that we are going to end up with Superintendent Thurmond as our next permanent Super because this BOE seems to think he is “The Bomb” and he has blown smoke up in too many places. Your spreadsheet just shows the fallacy of what is happening in the County Office. Anyone worth their salt has left the County except those that have too many years in to leave or other extenuating circumstances.

  2. Teachers Matter says:

    I only get through each day because of my colleagues; they are amazing. Leadership (county and schoolhouse) doesn’t care about us as they overfill our classes yet criticize us for our “failure rate”. We are stomped on by leadership, parents, and students (who face little or no consequence), yet expected to be professional at all times. It’s beyond absurd and a long overdue pay raise will not fix it! To my fellow teachers out there, Happy Spring Break; you have earned it.

  3. howdy1942 says:

    I am very happy for our teachers to get a long-overdue increase. I hope that this is only the beginning and those TRA contributions will soon be restored and efforts begun to find ways in which Dekalb County can replace those that were taken since 2011. This really needs to be an agenda item at the school board and this matter seriously addressed.

    While I understand some of the board members concerns about schools in the southern part of our County, I respectfully disagree with the means they propose to get there. From my perspective, we need to reduce class sizes there substantially and pay bonuses to attract the best teachers. We need to work with the County to insure that those schools are safe and have zero tolerance for those who would interfere with the learning process of others. We don’t need new administrators who are not accountable, whether they are engaging parents or otherwise. The school system can provide safe places for our kids to learn and study. We can provide books, computers, and other resources essential to learning. I seriously doubt that significant impact can be made on those parents who haven’t cared in the past. But we can help the children.

    While I do commend those responsible for getting these raises approved for our teachers, I also believe that Dekalb County needs a change of superintendent and hope that Mr. Thurmond will move on at the end of June. He says he will and, this time, I hope that he’s serious. We desperately need to address the morale of our teachers, to restore the trust of our community in the school system, to create true transparency in all matters regarding our schools, and to convince our community that, at long last, our schools are free of graft and corruption. If those teachers from the Atlanta Public School System are facing up to 20 years, then Crawford Long needs to do some serious prison time. That example needs to be set. Also, we need a change in human resources. Something is very wrong there. Our teacher turnover rate is far too high, we are relying on substitute teachers far too much, and there have simply been too many questionable hires in recent years. We are simply losing too much experience. We need to restore trust in and by our teachers. We can’t have a school system where the administration and our teachers are adversaries – they are part of the same team with the same objectives service the same population. This must be fixed – and soon!

    I have stated elsewhere that I have very serious doubts that we’ll see the creation of new school districts anytime soon – that requires a 2/3 vote in both the House and Senate and approval by the general population. We need change now. As I have also said, I was very impressed by the charter proposal of the Druid Hills Community and very disappointed that our school board didn’t even give it a chance. Changing the way charter schools are approved would be a major step forward and giving them a degree of autonomy would be ever better. there seems to be some momentum for that in State Government. One thing seems to be very clear – school districts are not going to be allowed to have schools that continue to fail our children. About time.

  4. Melanie says:

    We need an Instructional educator as our next Supt. a proven one!!

  5. It is clear that Thurmond is running for Superintend ! pandering to the south of I-20 crowd.

    positive take aways convictions in ATl. The same investigators are moving to Dekalb. Wow a rash of retirements and resignations, even guilty pleas! First in gets the best deal! 11 Defense attorneys are eating crow. Those 25k fees blew up in their face! convictions, wow those certainly have not been the free advertising for windfall business for those whom might have millions in ill gotten gains available for defense, or pro ball careers to save, rap careers to save when the street cred mission goes to far. let’s see how many more resignations, retirements,,pleas come in withing the next couple of months. We have had 3 already since the appointment announcement and that was before the RICO conviction. This reminds one of what happend when the Gold club went down on RICO ( my 15 year old recently asked me what the bldg was, I said the Gold Club. She had not a clue,,it is not her life time).

    The Lavista Hills and tucker did make it out. I am sure that Tucker will pass as most folks for at least 30 years thought Tucker was a city just like Doraville and Chamblee.

    We have to have the 8 words removed from the constitution next year.

    Did the $4k tax voucher pass.. I sure hope it did.

  6. EAV Mom says:

    Thanks so much to all those who helped compile this important information. I just emailed the Board with my concerns and a link to this post. I seriously doubt it will make a difference, but as someone who can’t afford private tuition and doesn’t want to move, I can only continue to hope things will improve if we continue to try.

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

  7. Still Waters says:

    Court of Appeals decision on teacher’s TSA lawsuit

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