Budgets, Cuts and Audits

For a history on per pupil spending in DeKalb, read Nancy Jester’s report:
History of Spending Per Student in Georgia

OVERVIEW: Regarding Audits (and the lack thereof)…

Dr. Atkinson ordered a ‘transactional’ audit – a look at several specific areas and transactions requested directly by her. This study was conducted by KPMG. They released a draft report, found in our files here. And then they released a final report, found here. (Also found later in this page.)

A full forensic audit, including a salary study was requested by Johnny Brown and conducted by Ernst & Young in 2004 – the only full forensic audit with salary study ever done in DeKalb. Leadership did not like the results, as it showed that serious overpayment of salaries at top tier levels was prevalent and costing the system millions (interestingly, one of the top overpaid people was Melvin Johnson, our current Board chair). Dr. Brown was also essentially fired (with a $400,000 exit package) and replaced by Dr. Lewis, veteran insider who quickly buried the study after first using it to give out raises to a few select top tier employees. As we all know, Lewis was later essentially fired (with a pension and $100,000 toward legal fees) after being indicted on RICO charges. Ramona Tyson was his hand-picked ‘interim’ replacement. After many ORRs, consistent pressure, and following many denials of the existence of documents, Ramona Tyson finally produced 4 large boxes of files generated by Ernst & Young, but still no copy of the final report. Tyson was replaced by permanent hire, Cheryl Atkinson, who conducted the aforementioned transactional audit, resulting in the firing of Marcus Turk and Jamey Wilson. Atkinson was also essentially fired (with a $100,000+ exit package) and replaced by the Board’s hand-picked ‘interim’ selection of Michael Thurmond who thus far shows no desire to conduct an audit.

The original DSW blog had several posts on the subject:

Feb 08, 2011
Update on the missing $340000 Ernst & Young Salary Audit

May 13, 2011
Ramona Tyson’s report on the 2004 Ernst & Young audit and plans …

May 13, 2011
May 9, Part 2: Ramona Tyson’s report on the 2004 Ernst & Young audit and plans for a new audit
(Transcribed from the Monday, May 9 board business meeting.)

DeKalb County School Watch: Back to the topic of the Ernst & Young …
May 21, 2011









CLICK HERE for Georgia Law on Local Budgets




History of the school system budgets:

FY2008 (2007-2008 school year) [Lewis]
16,547 employees (17,885 total, minus 1,338 substitutes)
proposed operating budget:
actual operating budget: $867.12 M
total budget for salaries: $682,700,557.50
October FTE count: 98,815

FY2009 (2008-2009 school year) [Lewis]
15,751 employees (17,376 total, minus 1,625 substitutes)
proposed operating budget:
actual operating budget: $886.64 M
total budget for salaries: $685,513,110.53
October FTE count: 99,406

FY2010 (2009-2010 school year) [Lewis]
15,615 employees (16,668 total, minus 1053 substitutes)
proposed operating budget:
actual operating budget: $836,598,734.20
total budget for salaries: $672,341,959.87
October FTE count: 98,115

FY2011 (2010-2011 school year) [Tyson]
14,962 employees (16,207 total, minus 1245 substitutes)
proposed operating budget: $746.64 million
actual operating budget: $807,823,774
total budget for salaries: $645,373,862.33
October FTE count: 97,313

FY2012 (2011-2012 school year) [Tyson] Fortunately, the funds the District expected to lose in additional austerity reductions during the year were not lost. Additionally, while the District planned for a 7% decline in the local property tax digest for FY2011, the actual decline was 3½%. The result is that the District received substantially more revenue than originally planned in FY2011. The additional revenue will add approximately $40 million to the General Operations Fund Balance at the end of FY2011. It is the additional Fund Balance, not additional revenue that will allow the District to maintain the General Fund expenditures for the FY2012. With an anticipated decline in the local property tax digest of 14.2%, this additional Fund Balance has prevented the District from having to make further reductions to the FY2012 budget.
000 employees (000 total, minus 00 substitutes)
proposed operating budget: $774.60 million [represents a decrease of 0.01% over the current FY2011 budget for General Operations]
actual operating budget: $000
total budget for salaries: $000
October FTE count: 98,910

FY2013 (2012-2013 school year) [Atkinson] includes a millage rate increase of 1 mill
from 22.98 to 23.98. [$93,366,460 in cuts approved by the Board ‘on paper’] (Originally the proposed budget had a shortfall of $85.0 million. Currently the proposed budget does not have an anticipated shortfall due to budget reductions totaling $44.2 million and an estimated increase in revenues from the additional 1 mill tax levy.
• The approved budget adds two work reduction days to the current work calendar. The new work calendar of 6 days for 10 and 11 month employees, and 9 days for 12 month employees.
• The FY2013 budget includes the reduction of 73 central office
personnel for a savings of $5.1 M.)
12,417 employees (13728 total, minus 1,311 substitutes)
proposed operating budget: $728,217,430 million {Only $3,055,042 budgeted for legal}
actual operating budget: $000
total budget for salaries: $000
October FTE count: 000

FY2014 (2013-2014 school year)
000 employees (000 total, minus 000 substitutes)
proposed operating budget: $00 million
actual operating budget: $000
total budget for salaries: $000
October FTE count: 000


The original DSW blog posted a graphic comparing the numbers of teachers on staff from year to year:


At the “State of the System” speech in October, 2012, we were told by Dr. Atkinson that we have about 6,500 teachers, and our student population has increased to around 99,000 again after a drop in 2010-11.  She didn’t say how many admin & support staff we have, but the published total employees is approximately 13,500, leaving at least 7,000 people working for the system that can be labeled ‘other than teachers’.   Is it really necessary to employ more ‘other’ people than teachers?



The 2012 Salary Audits, along with their costs to taxpayers are as follows:

Phase 1 of the New Audit can be found here:

Full Report Phase I (DCSS Audit-Jan-2012)

Human Resources Karaton Services Inc Job Reclassification/Position Specifications Development & Implementation Completed $79,000.00

Proposed New Jobs Classifications Documents

Executive Summary-Job Classifications

Proposed Job Classification Listing with Salary Ranges

Human Resources Huge & Associates HR Functions and Processes Audit Completed $45,000.00

Strategic Management & Accountability Pughsley & Associates Strategic Management/Aligned Management System Implementation $45,000.00

Curriculum & Instruction Education Planners LLC Curricula Programs & Professional Development Audit Completed $40,000.00

School Leadership & Operations Dr. Ralph Taylor Safe School & Alternative Programs Audit Completed $10,000.00


HR Reports during budget cuts

HR Monthly Board Report for May 2012

HR Monthly Report for June 2012-a

RIF info associated with June 2012 cuts

RIF Positions Document

RIF Plan- June 28, 2012


Report of Termination – May 2011 – May 2012
Click to view


In May 2012, the Superintendent and CFO presented a summary of their proposed FY2013 budget to the Budget Committee. Here are links to the documents that were presented:

Budget Cover Letter
Budget Detail
Budget Summary

Additional proposed 2012-13 budget documents: Click here for DCSS link

Proposed 2013 Budget updated May 29 after a lengthy board discussion of each option. The blue lines are areas where the board could not reach consensus.



Budget Variance from FY12-FY13








Table A. Proposed Project Budgets for Fund 410

Table B. Proposed Project Budgets for Fund 421

Good idea for an ORR. We have sent so many recently, and salaries was certainly one. However, we have heard NO response on any of our requests to date.

As far as the cuts that should be showing in HR reports – these are the cuts approved by the board:

The board approved budget was supposed to have cut the following for the 2011-12 school year:

150 Central Office Staff
Reduction magnet points by 20 (teachers)
Eliminated 200 para pros (actual vote only approved cutting 100 paras)
Reduce paras an additional 61 through attrition
Cut 59 media clerks**
Cut 18 CTSS**
Reduce Asst Principals by 10 through attrition
Reduce counselors by 10 through attrition
Increase class size by 2 (and reduce associated number of teachers)
High school summer school was to be provided through DOLA only
Cut Montessori by $96,000 (by blending programs)
Cut $4,000,000 from transportation via efficiency plan (satellite hubs for magnets/choice)
Eliminate 8 points from DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts
Eliminate 8 points from the single gender program (? didn’t know we actually had this)
Collapse Alternative programs (Truancy, Night and Transition) to save $637,790
Eliminate $2.2 million payment to Academy of Lithonia Charter (but was it just given to another charter instead? Net – 0 savings?)
Reduce JV athletics by 25% – $313,420 savings
Eliminate summer interns (save $277,000)
Eliminate Targeted Assistance points ($3,965,000)
Eliminate Corp Health & Wellness program ($159,520)
Restructure textbook payment (save $500,000)
Reduce small schools points, reduce specials, consolidate/itinerant (save $3,200,000)


The board approved budget was supposed to have cut the following for the 2012-13 school year:

The property taxes in DeKalb county were raised by one full millage point.
All employees are subject to 2 more furlough days on top of the already scheduled furlough days.
70 more people in the central office will lose their job
Pre-k programs will be reduced to only what the state funds provide
52 magnet teachers will lose their magnet job
28 Montessori teachers will lose their magnet job
Transportation to special programs: DECA, magnet, themes AMS and STT remains unchanged
Transportation for field trips will be cut by $1.6 million
Additional transportation (efficiency plan) will be cut $700,000
200 general ed parapros will lose their jobs
25 media specialists will lose their jobs
29 (all remaining) media clerks will lose their jobs
10 SROs will lose their jobs
Overtime pay for extra activities will be reduced by $5 million
Fernbank will have to cut $1.9 million from its programs budget
10 Asst Principals lost through attrition will not be replaced
10 counselors lost through attrition will not be replaced
20 interpreters will lose their jobs
The summer work schedule is reduced to 4 – 10 hour days
Employees will have to subsidize health insurance by an additional $35.57/month
Employees will have to subsidize dental insurance by an additional $16.02/month
Regular Ed Class sizes will increase by 2
Special Ed Class sizes will increase by 2

The budget cuts as discussed at the June 11,2012 Board of Education meeting:

Click to view the proposed budget cuts.

The original budget cut worksheet from Ramona Tyson’s 2010-11 budget cuts:

Live Blog Report from the VA Highlands “Patch” – from the May 30 Public Hearing on the Budget.
Public Hearing on DeKalb Schools Budget

The county tried to pull a fast one by increasing many properties in central and north DeKalb to make up for the projected losses in south DeKalb. In Dunwoody alone, over 700 properties saw random increases in assessments of $100,000 or more!
722 homes overvalued in tax assessments

The tax assessor’s office sent out thousands of new notices with the corrected information.

To see the newly released list in Dunwoody, click below.

The “Now You See It, Now You Don’t” Draft Audit by KPMG showing that many of the mandated cuts to the 2010 budget were never actually implemented. Especially when it comes to cutting the central office staff:


Julie J. Oinonen Esq. MBA M.Ed of the law firm, Williams Oinonen LLC shared the following documents with us that she received via an ORR for a lawsuit comparing those RIFd since September, 2011 and those hired since September, 2011.

We have included optional views with the data sorted by job title and by pay. We have a lot of work to do on these files yet, but a cursory look seems to show that a majority of the highly paid admin jobs that were supposedly RIFd have been replaced, netting no savings – and in fact, there’s a possibility that the new hires in the CO could be more costly than before the budget cuts.

However, it appears that teachers have not been replaced in any meaningful percentages. We were surprised to see that many RIFd teachers were actually in the hard to replace categories of math and science. It’s all very concerning to us.

ORR-9-hired since 091511

ORR-9-hired since 091511-BY-SALARY-2

ORR-9-hired since 091511-by-job-title

ORR 8 termed since 091511

ORR 8 termed since 091511-by-salary

ORR 8 termed since 091511-by-Job-Title


Organizational Chart 2011-2012

Second Organizational Chart 2011-2012

RIF Plan- June 28, 2012

Organizational Chart 2012-2013


Nancy Jester’s published chart showing administrative costs over 5 years:


Article in the “Daily Report” projecting DCSS’ legal bills to increase exponentially in 2013:


Latest HR report supposedly showing cut backs and RIFs:
Human Resources Monthly Report dated October 9_ 2012_4108121nxgfhi4kfpg4le21aym0iyn

DSW’s analysis of the HR reports:
ORR 8 termed since 091511-but-replaced

ORR-9-hired since 091511-by-salary

This spreadsheet is more in-depth on the restructuring. See if you can follow it:
Copy of Restructuring Presentation- Final.-Highlights1 2



Click here to read the KPMG final “audit”. [We are of the opinion that this is simply a targeted transactional audit – not a full fledged systemwide forensic audit.]


BUDGET DOCS – Developed under Supt. Thurmond

As we begin the process of developing the FY14 budget (2013-14 school year) under Mr. Thurmond, we will try to follow and place relevant documents below:



FY 2014 Budget Development Presentation



The 2014 budget in Excel format:

2 Responses to Budgets, Cuts and Audits

  1. Pingback: Two steps forward, three back: DeKalb now has to repay the feds nearly $1 million | dekalb school watch two

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