Strategic Management and Accountability … and Other Myths

myth-v-truthIn FY ’14, the budget for the division of Strategic Management & Accountability was $205,053. During this year there was one full time employee and the travel budget was $10,000.

In the FY ’15 budget, the division of Strategic Management & Accountability had a budget of $228,066 and did not show up on the organizational chart of the district. It had no employees.

In the FY ’16 budget $215,016 is budgeted for the division of Strategic Management & Accountability. This division still is not included in the organizational chart of the district and still doesn’t have any employees.

You wouldn’t think that could get any worse, but the amount budgeted for travel in FY ’15 and FY ’16 is $9,500. Remember, no employees.

There is a reason for this division to show up in the budget even if it doesn’t exist. On August 5, 2013, the BOE voted to outsource the creation and monitoring of the district’s strategic plan to Georgia School Boards Association at a cost of $250,000. This cost was to be allocated to the Division of Strategic Management and Accountability. The cost was $45,000 more than the total budget for the division, but the BOE doesn’t look at the details of what they are asked to approve. The agenda item which the BOE approved lists ten services the Georgia School Boards Association are to do as part of the contract. None of them are currently uploaded on the BOE’s eBoard Strategic Plan 2019 page. It has only been 22 months. No sense in rushing into something like this. (Please reread the previous sentence as sarcastic.)

Math shows us the district has spent $478,066 for Strategic Management and doesn’t have a strategic plan. Stan Jester posted a link in the comments of a post on his page to what used to be the Strategic Plan web page, but the district took the link to that page down after he posted it. That page promised the strategic plan would be presented to the BOE for “Final Approval” before June 30, 2014. Stakeholders are still waiting for that to happen.

On a side note, in place of the strategic plan, the district’s website is currently referencing the Comprehensive Restructuring Plan from 2008. Another example of communication by C.Y.A.

Add in the FY ’16 budget and the total budgeted for a strategic plan will be $693,082. What are the odds of Dr. Green being able to put a strategic plan together within his first year? I would say close to zero if he doesn’t remove the central office staff who don’t want to be held accountable for results. The current administration doesn’t believe in Accountability.

For example, Dr. Smith, the head of HR, told the BOE that the district’s goal for teacher retention is 93%. However, using the monthly HR reports and a little more math, you can see the teacher retention rate for the last twelve months is just under 85%. This is worse than it was for the 2013-14 school year. The district’s media machine is saying teacher morale has been restored, but they don’t say how that was measured. Clearly, teacher retention is not part of the equation.

Dr. Smith doesn’t report the teacher retention rate to the BOE and they don’t bother to ask or do the math.

The absence of accountability within the DeKalb County Schools administration would laughable if it wasn’t so sad.

The only thing more sad is how the BOE lets them get away with it.

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17 Responses to Strategic Management and Accountability … and Other Myths

  1. Forensic audit, please, Dr. Green. We don’t think it’s possible for you to even begin your job without first doing a full forensic audit of DeKalb School’s spending and salaries (very different from the state’s transactional audit). Separate everything related to SPLOST construction. That budget should not have one single thing to do with the general operating budget. Those employees should be attached to the SPLOST funds – not to the FTE budget. Then keep going from there. (After you replace Tekshia and RIF Ramona and Ron, of course.)

  2. Procopius from Constantinople says:

    A forensic audit would be a great start, however I do not believe the school board would ever approve the expenditure to complete an audit. Sure, some of the board members would be behind it, but not a majority. They would give the ol lip service a try and then move on. With all the trouble Dekalb County is having with P-cards I can’t help but believe the school system has similar issues.

  3. Yes, of course the school system has similar P-card problems to those identified in DeKalb County. We know that because Crawford Lewis was caught red-handed. There may have been similar issues with Atkinson. Neither Lewis nor Atkinson was ever seriously prosecuted. One of our contributors is retired from state government where P-cards are also used for official purchases. When given the P-card, this person was told in no uncertain terms that misusing a P-card, even by mistake or a personal emergency, was grounds for immediate firing. Apparently that rule applies everywhere except DeKalb County Schools

  4. Sylvia Richardson says:

    Does the school system have an internal auditor? Gwinnett school system has had one for decades, reporting to the superintendent. Dekalb used to be a premier system…but not now. We need a school board setting the direction.

  5. Weary Worker says:

    Just saw this, no details on the “options”

    SUPERINTENDENT MICHAEL THURMOND RECOMMENDS $10 MILLION TO RESTORE EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT PLAN

    DeKalb County School District Considers Restoring Retirement Options for All Employees

    Superintendent Michael Thurmond recommends “assignment” of $10 million in the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015 – 2016 to reestablish a DeKalb County School District supported retirement option for all employees. The funds have been identified in the District’s fund balance, which is expected to exceed $80 million at the beginning of the new fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2015.

    The DeKalb Board of Education will consider this recommendation on Wednesday, June 17, when the final budget for FY2016 is adopted.

    “We have been working diligently for the past two years to find ways to help our loyal employees, who have been the victims of a bad economy and poor management decisions in years past,” said Superintendent Thurmond. “With the new budget, the District will have the ability to assist employees with their pre-tax retirement savings in addition to allocating $20 million for significant salary increases for qualified, veteran teachers as well as improved salaries for all other employees. I am particularly proud of the much needed and deserved proposed salary increases for our lowest paid employees.”

    In March, Superintendent Thurmond recommended a three-tier salary increase that emphasizes improved salaries for veteran teachers for FY2015-2016. The proposed increases include:

    • 4 percent cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) for all veteran teachers with 6 or more years of experience
    • 3 percent COLA increase to teachers with 0-5 years of experience; and,
    • 2 percent COLA increase for all other employees.

    The District has 14,000 total employees including 6,000 teachers.

    Contact:
    Quinn Hudson
    678.676.0720

  6. former dekalb parent says:

    So, you are not a teacher, but you have been working hard for this system, and suffering maybe more with furlough days since you do not get summers off, and they want to give you a 2% raise? Nice, and to think that no steps have happened for a while, no TSA, still have furlough days on the calendar, working twice as hard since so many were fired/laid off to show that administration numbers were cut, and benefits costs going up and changing without notice– what a deal! Please let me grow up to be a long term DeKalb County School Board employee! And many of them are trapped as the SS Windfall provision gets them coming and going with the Private retirement system. I will believe it when I see it…..

  7. Back in the 1990’s, I do not remember the exact year; the person in charge of reviewing the equivalent of the P-cards for the Office of the Director and Office of Program Support at CDC told me that they had caught one of the top 5 people at the CDC using their card to purchase 4 new tires for a personal vehicle.

    You were required to use a government pool vehicle that remained on site for any government use, no matter what your pay grade was. It was only on very rare occasions such as when it was in the best interest of the Government for you to drive your personal vehicle to an all day training event you were reimbursed for the amount beyond your normal commuting mileage ( if that was less than the cost of a plane ticket at the government contracted rate, so you couldn’t be reimbursed .50 plus cents a mile to drive your car back and forth to training in Californa so you could take your family for a cross country jaunt).

    While the person never would identify the exact person, let’s just say that most people would have been terminated for this. The person who told me was outraged about it and seething that the person got away with it.

  8. September says:

    @Former Dekalb Parent. I think every staff/faculty member assigned to a school should receive a 4% raise. As it stands now that may not be the case. School counselors, social workers and media specialists spoke about this at the June 1st Board meeting.

  9. Currently, PATS has four hundred and sixty-two (462) teacher openings listed on it:

    Elementary: 182
    Middle: 63
    High: 101
    Special Education: 116

  10. Current DCSD job openings by location:

    ALLGOOD ELEMENTARY 6
    ARABIA MOUNTAIN HIGH SCHOOL 3
    ASHFORD PARK ELEM 5
    AVONDALE ELEMENTARY 1
    BOB MATHIS ELEMENTARY 2
    BRIAR VISTA ELEMENTARY 4
    BRIARLAKE ELEMENTARY 5
    BROCKETT ELEMENTARY 3
    BROWNS MILL ELEM 10
    BUS DRIVERS 3
    CANBY LANE ELEM 7
    CARY REYNOLDS ELEMENTARY 9
    CEDAR GROVE ELEM 4
    CEDAR GROVE HIGH 6
    CEDAR GROVE MIDDLE 2
    CHAMBLEE HIGH 5
    CHAMBLEE MIDDLE 2
    CHAMPION THEME MIDDLE 2
    CHAPEL HILL ELEM 1
    CHAPEL HILL MIDDLE 7
    CHESNUT ELEMENTARY 3
    CLARKSTON HIGH 8
    COLUMBIA ELEMENTARY 1
    COLUMBIA HIGH 6
    COLUMBIA MIDDLE SCHOOL 6
    CORALWOOD DIAGNOSTIC CENTER 2
    CROSS KEYS HIGH 13
    DEKALB ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL 4
    DEKALB EARLY COLLEGE ACADEMY 1
    DEKALB ELEM SCHOOL OF THE ARTS 4
    DEKALB SCH OF ARTS 1
    DESTINY ACHIEVER’S ACADEMY 3
    DHS TECHNOLOGY SOUTH 2
    DIVERSE LEARNER SERVICES 13
    DIVERSE LEARNER SVCS – PSYCHOL 2
    DOLA DURING THE DAY 3
    DRESDEN ELEMENTARY 8
    DRUID HILLS HIGH 5
    DRUID HILLS MIDDLE 1
    DUNAIRE ELEMENTARY 2
    DUNWOODY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 3
    DUNWOODY HIGH 5
    EAGLE WOODS ACADEMY 8
    ELDRIDGE MILLER ELEMENTARY 3
    ELIZABETH ANDREWS HIGH SCHOOL 2
    EMPLOYMENT SERVICES 24
    EVANSDALE ELEMENTARY 1
    E.L. BOUIE,SR. ELEMENTARY 1
    FAIRINGTON ELEM 3
    FEDERAL PROGRAMS 4
    FERNBANK ELEMENTARY 4
    FINANCE 3
    FLAT ROCK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 5
    FLAT SHOALS ELEMENTARY 9
    FLEET SERVICES 1
    FREEDOM MIDDLE SCHOOL 12
    F/S CENTRAL ACCOUNT 1
    GATEWAY TO COLLEGE CHARTER SCH 1
    HAMBRICK ELEMENTARY 5
    HAWTHORNE ELEMENTARY 4
    HENDERSON MIDDLE 12
    HENDERSON MILL ELEM 2
    HIGHTOWER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 4
    HUNTLEY HILLS ELEM 3
    IDLEWOOD ELEMENTARY 7
    INDIAN CREEK ELEM 8
    INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY 6
    INTERNAL AUDITS 2
    INTERNATIONAL STUDENT CENTER 4
    INT’L STUDENT SCREENING 2
    JOLLY ELEMENTARY 8
    KELLEY LAKE ELEMENTARY 2
    KINGSLEY ELEMENTARY 5
    KITTREDGE MAGNET SCHOOL 1
    LAKESIDE HIGH 8
    LAUREL RIDGE ELEMENTARY 3
    LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT 1
    LITHONIA HIGH 3
    LITHONIA MIDDLE SCHOOL 6
    MARBUT ELEMENTARY 3
    MARGARET HARRIS COMPREHENSIVE 2
    MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. H.S. 9
    MCLENDON ELEMENTARY 3
    MCNAIR DISCOVERY LEARNING 10
    MCNAIR HIGH 12
    MCNAIR MIDDLE 3
    MEADOWVIEW ELEMENTARY 2
    MIDVALE ELEMENTARY 3
    MILLER GROVE HIGH 11
    MILLER GROVE MIDDLE 7
    MONTCLAIR ELEMENTARY 8
    MONTGOMERY ELEMENTARY 4
    MOUNTAIN INDUSTRIAL CENTER 1
    MURPHEY CANDLER ELEM 3
    M.M. BETHUNE MIDDLE 7
    NARVIE J. HARRIS ELEMENTARY 2
    NEW PEACHCREST ELEMENTARY 7
    OAK GROVE ELEMENTARY 1
    OAK VIEW ELEMENTARY 4
    OAKCLIFF ELEMENTARY 6
    OPERATIONS 8
    PANOLA WAY ELEMENTARY 2
    PEACHTREE MIDDLE 5
    PINE RIDGE ELEMENTARY 4
    PLEASANTDALE ELEMENTARY 5
    PRINCETON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 6
    PUBLIC SAFETY 3
    RAINBOW ELEMENTARY 2
    REDAN ELEMENTARY 4
    REDAN HIGH 8
    REDAN MIDDLE 3
    ROBERT SHAW THEME 1
    ROCK CHAPEL ELEMENTARY 1
    ROCKBRIDGE ELEMENTARY 2
    ROWLAND ELEMENTARY 6
    SAFE SCHOOLS 1
    SAGAMORE HILLS ELEMENTARY 1
    SALEM MIDDLE 5
    SEQUOYAH MIDDLE 8
    SHADOW ROCK CENTER (GNETS) 2
    SHADOW ROCK ELEMENTARY 2
    SNAPFINGER ELEMENTARY 10
    SOUTHWEST DEKALB HIGH SCHOOL 6
    STAFF SERVICES 2
    STEPHENSON HIGH 6
    STEPHENSON MIDDLE 3
    STONE MILL ELEMENTARY 4
    STONE MOUNTAIN MIDDLE SCHOOL 5
    STONE MTN ELEMENTARY 3
    STONE MTN HIGH 4
    STONEVIEW ELEMENTARY 8
    STUDENT ASSIGNMENT 1
    SUPPLY EMPLOYEES 5
    TONEY ELEMENTARY 3
    TOWERS HIGH 8
    TRANSPORTATION 1
    TUCKER HIGH 7
    TUCKER MIDDLE SCHOOL 2
    WADSWORTH MAGNET SCHOOL 2
    WARREN TECHNICAL 8
    WOODRIDGE ELEMENTARY 1
    WOODWARD ELEMENTARY 5
    WYNBROOKE ELEMENTARY 3

  11. thedeal2 says:

    It IS the job of the board to police this, and they DON’T! Come ON, board. Ask these questions!

  12. I am sure this is only one example of wasted funds. If it happens at the local school level it must happen on a much larger scale at the district level. It becomes a spending/designating of funds where they are not needed and not changing the line annually “just because”…. The audit is the only way to determine where the money has truly gone.

    As for the teacher morale eluded to, we can see the teacher hiring being done across the district clearly shows they are fleeing elsewhere. I’ve seen many of the best teachers I know jumping ship the past few years when they used to stick with it and “tough it out”. Guess that time has ended for many. Also, I imagine the absence/substitute rates have gone up tremendously as teachers felt less and less valued in dekalb (that’s the data I’d like to see). I’m certain there is much more that needs to happen to qualify a statement that morale has improved. My guess is the only data the district considers is the number of calls from disenfranchised employees, which probably have decreased as they realize there is no help to come from the leadership.

  13. DeKalb County Schools is the personification of “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

  14. kirklunde says:

    Dr. Green needs to bring in outside consultants to survey the teachers and evaluate the HR department.
    At this time the job descriptions for any position in the HR department do not require a degree or experience in HR. The director of HR is not required to have even an associate degree in HR.
    That needs to change along with the leadership of the HR department.

  15. Not one more consultant! NOT ONE!!

  16. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Once he is instilled in his job. We need to write, email and call to let him know who we feel needs to be shown the door. Parents must get squeaky again about the central office. It must start from the top and keep going. Why do we need so many employees? This has to be communicated, loudly, to this new Sup. Tyson, Ward-Smith, Howe. These folks should not be guaranteed a job for life at that office. Accountability for the last 5 years….

  17. @bettyandveronica1: Good luck with your attempts to get the new super to clear out the top administration. From our perspective, like we’ve been saying, “It’s Groundhog Day (Again)”. Sorry. We don’t see any changes coming. We simply think Dr. Green is more of the same, judging by his display of outrageous personal spending in KC (“lavish” according to the KC CBS 46 story linked below).

    We’ve had enough of “Charrettes”, “Fireside Chats”, Community Liaison Committees, Blue Ribbon Task Forces, Citizen Task Forces, Steering Committees, “America’s Choice”, “Success for All”, “Excellence in Education”, “Five Guiding Principles,” “Theory of Action for Change”, “Victory in Every Classroom”, “Triage”, “Race to the Top”, etc., etc., etc. So many programs — so little accountability. In fact, NO accountability. And Michael Thurmond has taken it over the top with his $70 million + Board Approved “Bridge” program, which is at most, a tv show – and has had NO reporting or follow-up!

    We are ready for someone who will clear the decks and truly focus on the classroom – not just talk about it – do what it takes. So far, we remain skeptical about Dr. Green’s ability to do so. (Read our post, Floating To The Top)

    Read more of our old posts highlighting the same promises from every new ‘leader’ we’ve had over the last decade.

    Monday, November 14, 2011
    Can DeKalb Become a Classroom Centered School System?“Concentrating On Our Core Business of Educating Students”

    Sunday, July 31, 2011
    Back to School Message from Ms. Tyson

    Saturday, July 16, 2011
    Triage! That’s what they’re calling the plan to improve test scores.

    For more, just spend some time re-reading the blog posts from the original DSW. Sadly, they are all still very relevant today.

    And here’s one lamenting yet another Groundhog Day >>
    The vortex of DeKalb: A long, slow flush
    Posted on February 6, 2013 by dekalbschoolwatch

    As Yogi Berra used to say, “It’s déjà vu all over again!”

    At least read our most recent plea for that FULL FORENSIC AUDIT!
    Another call for a full forensic audit
    Posted on April 7, 2015

    Basically, we are very tired of essentially writing the same posts over and over and over… And after reading the article about Dr. Green’s ridiculous, lavish spending on meals for him and his staff in Kansas City as well as his ridiculous defense of it, we can only predict more of the same. We hope he proves us wrong.

    KCPS superintendent defends lavish high-end dining
    Posted: Jul 21, 2014 3:15 PM EDT

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