DeKalb nixes tax increase. Will cut staff, schools.

From the AJC breaking news desk:

The DeKalb County school board will vote on a budget with at least 427 layoffs, seven teacher furlough days and at least four school closings.

On Friday morning, the board’s four-member budget committee adopted a tentative budget with $115.8 million in cuts and no tax hike.

Board members H. Paul Womack, Don McChesney and Jay Cunningham voted in support of the budget. Board member Eugene Walker voted against the proposal, saying he wants to raise taxes.

The budget includes laying off 200 paraprofessionals, 150 central office employees, 59 media clerks and 18 technical specialists.

104 comments Add your comment

Posterchild

March 26th, 2010
12:58 pm

Way to throw education under the bus, DeKalb.

Really?!?

March 26th, 2010
1:06 pm

I have heard that our local school will be losing their pre-k class this fall. It’s too bad the BofE doesn’t have the courage, or the common sense, to cut the fat off the bloated payroll. Does anyone know exactly how many jobs the DCSS has added in the last few years? To add any jobs when enrollment is dropping is stupid, but to cut in-school staff before these newish positions are cut should be outright criminal.

Cut in Central Office

March 26th, 2010
1:06 pm

I only hope the cuts in central office will be administrative salaries!

just wondering

March 26th, 2010
1:14 pm

Someone said it best in another blog, you get what you pay for. After years of tax cuts or no new taxes, the kettle has run dry. I saw this coming 2 years ago with the high amount of foreclosures in Dekalb county; where is the money coming from.

This is just sad to see teachers being laid off because of poor planning and spending. The end result is going to be a lower standard of education with increased class size. One or two extra kids in a class can change the entire dynamic of the class for the other 30.

Overwhelmed

March 26th, 2010
1:16 pm

I don’t like some of the cuts. Why not cut extra asst. principles? Why not cut Astt. superintendents? Why not gut MAGNET programs? But, I am pleased they did not raise taxes. It is not the answer when everyone is struggling already.

Write Your Board Members

March 26th, 2010
1:21 pm

Ah, the sacred magnet program. Next year, every school but the magnet programs will feel significant pain. And some communities will make the ultimate sacrifice of seeing their schools shuttered. But the magnet programs will lose a teacher or maybe two, but will still have far better teacher-pupil ratios.

And no real cuts to the Fernbank program, again a huge drain on the system resources.

But not to worry — the Board of Ed and acting Super. saved some bread crumbs and watery soup for the remaining 93,000 students in DCSS.

It sucks to go to a neighborhood school in DeKalb.

Property Tax payer

March 26th, 2010
1:31 pm

The Magnet programs should be the first to go! They are not open to all of the students in the neighborhood and are reminiscent of “separate but equal”; instead they’re not because they have smaller class sizes and no loss in funding. I say we boycott paying property taxes until this Board understands what the tax-paying citizens really want. Then, we follow that up by electing an entirely new Board. In lieu of boycotting paying our property taxes maybe we should institute impeachment proceedings against the Board? Perhaps then they will find better ways to deal with the bad economic policies they’ve been supporting for far too long!

I am Watching

March 26th, 2010
1:34 pm

I am watching – the magnet schools had better have their fundings come into line with the “regular” schools, or there is a lawsuit waiting to happen – it’s called “inequitable” education.

Ann

March 26th, 2010
1:40 pm

Maureen, do you have any idea if moving from a property tax to some other type of tax has ever been considered? With the real estate market in the tank and foreclosures rising everyday, the property tax method is getting more and more inequitable.

parent

March 26th, 2010
2:33 pm

What are the specific magnet programs that people on this blog have a problem with? Is it the gifted programs (Wadsworth and Kittredge)? Or are there others?

DeKalb Conservative

March 26th, 2010
2:59 pm

I don’t believe these cuts and this outcome. I’m fairly certain once the coast is clear, more things will reappear and taxes will look to be increased.

Jabberwocky

March 26th, 2010
3:32 pm

Hello posters…
Do any of you know if it’s true that the board and Crawford Clueless have agreed that he will retire during Spring Break ,and in return the board has agreed not to pursue any charges against him or his ilk in the Dekalb system????

Jabberwocky

March 26th, 2010
3:34 pm

Dekalb usually does all of their underhanded stuff during Spring break, Winter break, or Summer vacation….hoping to reek less havoc while people are away.

broketeacher

March 26th, 2010
3:54 pm

I live and teach in Dekalb. PLEASE RAISE TAXES INSTEAD OF CUTTING MY PAYCHECK!!! The tax hike will cost me $1000 at most, probably more like $500. This pay cut is costing me $4000!!! Exactly how am I supposed to pay my bills? I work for pennies as it is!

broketeacher

March 26th, 2010
3:58 pm

Oh, and how about cutting the pay of people who make more than $75,000 a year! ALL assistant principals, principals, math coaches, english coaches, special ed. coaches . . . . They ALL make twice as much as I, the lowly classroom teacher, do. How is the gap so wide?

old teacher

March 26th, 2010
4:06 pm

As I have said about Clayton county, teaching assistance are necessary today. I believe a small pay cut for everyone and a larger on for those who make over $70,000 a year. Also, in the bloated county office there ought to be some positions..maybe 20% that could be cut. Dekalb has always had a large county office staff that little affect the class. I do agree, this year is not the time to raise taxes.We are all having to cut expenses.

old teacher

March 26th, 2010
4:08 pm

One more thing, TN counties are allowed to add a “wheel” tax on all moterized vehicles. My small county raises more than if they increased property taxes 20%. Teacher average salary in $45,000.

bootney farnsworth

March 26th, 2010
4:41 pm

exactly where is this additional tax money gonna come from?
in case y’all haven’t noticed, folks are already broke.

the answer is to cut pork, not raise taxes.

David S

March 26th, 2010
4:49 pm

I’m sure all of the parents would be happy to send in addition dollars to support the schools that their kids attend. Not.

I’m sure all of the parents would be happy to demand that the county tax everyone in a socialistic manner based on their income or property value so as to socialize the cost and minimize the amount of money that they should have to pay out (regardless of how many children they may have in attendance). Yeah, that sounds more like what to expect.

David S

March 26th, 2010
4:50 pm

It is rarely ever appropriate to say, but good job DeKalb commissioners. Keep cutting just like your constituents are having to.

bootney farnsworth

March 26th, 2010
5:00 pm

for all the raise taxes crowd:
can you please give some examples of how or why you think
the buffoons in DeKalb would spend any new tax revenue wisely?

its not like they’ve done such a good job with the revenue they
already have.

to increase taxes at this moment only rewards the ineptitude
which got you here in the first place.

Shannon, M.Div.

March 26th, 2010
5:01 pm

*Seven* teacher furlough days?! I hope Walker is heard in the greater meeting. This is crazy. If you keep cutting teacher salaries, you’re going to see teacher backsides… as they move away to teach in places that respect them more, pay them better, and give them less paperwork (and more time to teach!).

It's Me

March 26th, 2010
5:16 pm

Interesting that the Montessori program was saved by a handfull of angry parents. DeKalb public school $ going to fund “private” school for a handful of children. Parents of DeKalb who send their children to their neighborhood schools should be outraged! It’s their children who are getting the short end of the stick.

bootney farnsworth

March 26th, 2010
5:20 pm

@ me,

are you referring to charter schools?

bootney farnsworth

March 26th, 2010
5:20 pm

sorry, make that magnet schools.

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darla

March 26th, 2010
5:37 pm

@ It’s Me – Montessori was saved by a large group of organized parents across 3 different schools who worked collaboratively with the administration and came up with a proposal that makes the program budget neutral. There is nothing private about Montessori in Dekalb – it is open to all students provided they begin the program no later than 1st grade. Special needs students, ESOL students, Title 1 students are all part of the Montessori program.

betrayed

March 26th, 2010
5:49 pm

I feel betrayed by my own Board. I make $10,000 less than I did two years ago. Now, that will drop to $16,000 less.

I need to find something else to do.

Vince

March 26th, 2010
5:51 pm

David S…

….ummmm the Dekalb commissioners have nothing to do with schools or the schools’ budget.

But, I guess you can compliment them all the same.

Dekalbteacher

March 26th, 2010
6:05 pm

@Darla-There is no such thing as a Title 1 student just Title 1 schools. It is based only on the school’s percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. Right now it is 60%, last year it was 55%. I am sure it will go up.

Also, Maureen there’s a rumour going around that none of the Dekalb Pre-K teachers got contracts for next year. Do you know if this is true?

Nikole Allen

March 26th, 2010
6:26 pm

@ Dekalbteacher- Midway is a Title 1 school that serves Title 1 students in its Montessori program. I think that is what Darla is saying.

I encourage everyone to attend the next budget meetings and let the board know that any job cuts should come from the central office. This is a SCHOOL district. Cuts should not come from those who support STUDENTS. Get rid of staff that make over $80,000 doing absolutely nothing and keep the paras and media clerks, and pre-k in schools.

Nikole Allen

March 26th, 2010
6:27 pm

I speak freely as a Dekalb County citizen.

A Different Opinion

March 26th, 2010
7:05 pm

DeKalb already has one of the highest school tax millage rate in the state……OK, I’m gonna say it again……”The DeKalb County School System’s Budget Problem can be solved by doing just one thing…….get rid of the school bus expense”

Write Your Board Members

March 26th, 2010
7:16 pm

I think the Pre-K teachers didn’t get contracts because the system was trying to make sure they were going to keep it. At the last budget meeting before this one, the cuts to pre-k were removed from the list. However, the decision wasn’t made in time to get the pre-k contracts done in time.

FLAWoodLayer

March 26th, 2010
7:25 pm

@ Shannon, only one problem, where are DeKalb teachers to go? Contracts have been given out and are due today basically. Dekalb teachers are trapped. I agree with A Different Opinion, whack the busses. If you care about sending your kid to a special program, drive them there or catch MARTA. Also, the Central Office has to be gutted. I agree with no new taxes until you get a new board and turnover the Mafioso run Central Office.

BTW, you can email the system suggestions for the Mountain Industrial Complex’s new name. I like Gangster’s Paradise, or The Black Hole, maybe the Den of Thieves. What say you?

Dan

March 26th, 2010
7:26 pm

I bet all the people complaining about the magnet programs had their children rejected by them.

Teacherforlife

March 26th, 2010
8:02 pm

From what I understand, the preK teachers were not given contracts (the one at my school was not) – because the BOE/DCSS is trying to figure out a way to pay preK teachers less than salary scale. In other words, to pay them like daycare workers…..not that day care workers aren’t valuable….

Write Your Board Members

March 26th, 2010
8:06 pm

Dan,

With the exception of DSA and DESA after 4th grade or so, the magnet programs have a very low bar (75th percentile) and are by lottery.

I haven’t had a child rejected but feel that the monies spent on these programs (and it is substantial monies) unfairly impact the rest of the school system.

Allen

March 26th, 2010
8:47 pm

200 paraprofessionals = 200 people who work with our kids every day
150 central office employees = 150 friends and family of board members and high DCSS officials who get paid more than people who work with our kids
–and we already have more support staff than teaching staff

so why do we have these budget problems again? oh that’s right, “low” taxes and the [non-existent] teachers’ union

Jabberwocky

March 26th, 2010
9:27 pm

Guess nobody has heard that rumor I mentined earlier about Crawford Clueless fading away during Spring break.
Having taught in Dekalb for 32 years……I am sick to death the anyone in a position that comes in contact with students on a daily basis is being cut…. paras, media clerks.
Seems to me , the 1000 people that Lewis hired at the county office after he became Super should go first..
.then ANY position that does not come into contact with students on a daily basis should go.
That, in my experience, would include a number of assistant principals.

M G

March 26th, 2010
9:47 pm

Several times today during the meeting it was mentioned how many teachers were being laid off by other Metro districts. There was no mention of how many teaching positions DeKalb is cutting since they’re listed as “eliminating points” on the budget sheet. Each point represents a teacher.
Here’s my calculation of those reductions with the numbers from the sheet. I used the $65,000 figure for each salary since that is what Dr. Lewis has stated several times was the cost per teacher and the savings amount they list used that amount for items 5, 12, and 13.
5. Reduce magnet points by 20 across all schools 20 teachers
12. Eliminate 8 DECA points 8
13. Eliminate 8 Single Gender points 8
19. Schools with 7-Period Day (Move from 2 planning periods to 1) 37
20. Eliminate Targeted Assistance Points 61
26. Reduce Small School Points; Reduce Specials; Consolidate/Itinerant 49
38. Increase Class Sizes by 2 Students Per Class 215

Total 398 teaching positions.

Welcome to our little World of Dekalb

March 26th, 2010
9:47 pm

I agree with Eugene Walker instead of lay-offs, raise taxes. The school system can’t pay for the entire states’ shortfalls. As matter of fact raise sales for the entire state of Georgia by 3% Desinate how the should be use. Write your state legislative.

1% creating state jobs
1% education
1% towards balancing the state budget(guarantees no more lay -offs and no more furlough days for state employees)

Sade

March 26th, 2010
11:25 pm

I have taught in the Dekalb County School System for more than ten years. I have seen high school classes with fewer than five students make because they were AP, ESOL, or 3rd and 4th year language classes. I have seen education coaches brought in to “help” teachers teach by observing classrooms and offering constructive criticism and providing staff development classes. I have seen reams of paper used (in worn out copy machines) to promote special programs that had been advertised multiple times by various methods throughout the school. I have seen lights left on, faucets dripping, outside doors left open in winter and summer with the heat and air on full blast. The waste is everywhere but nowhere is it more evident than in the DCCS central offices. The glut of office staff is everywhere. Department coordinators generate useless paperwork to justify their high salaried jobs. The PR department provided a multiple page slick color Magnet Program catalog for every high school student in the county to take home. Dr. C. Lewis travels with an entourage like a rock star. He has the county B of E meetings professionally videotaped with all the accouterments of lights, curtain, and sound. It is theater at its best – a comedy of errors and unfortunately, I am not laughing.

Jim

March 27th, 2010
12:43 am

Thank you Dekalb County school board. This was the right thing to do, and it is not debatalbe. Cutting waste and inefficiency is not in an over blown bureaucracy is not equivalent to sacrificing quality education. In fact it is quite the opposite. There is too much fat and waste in Dekalb County in general and the school system is no exception. It’s about time we see a school board make the right decision to cut waste and improve efficiency and quality of the school system. Remember more money does not equal better schools or smarter students.

Mighty ODE

March 27th, 2010
5:27 am

Now that some of their teacher members might start losing their jobs, is mighty ODE finally using the words that everyone else is using? Are they finally using words administrative bloat?

Or will they just toe the line and carry the water, while telling everyone to wear black?

Current parent, former teacher

March 27th, 2010
9:34 am

IMO, DeKalb County’s administration and BOE have mismanaged money in many ways. (One of the current outrages is the ongoing Heery-Mitchell lawsuit on which the school system has spent millions already and now will probably lose because there is no way Pat Pope will be seen as a credible witness).
But please, folks, you need to also aim your outrage at the governor and state legislature, too. They are guilty of underfunding education in Georgia for years, including times of plenty, when they still imposed “austerity” cuts. Keep the pressure on them.

emma falcon-rose

March 27th, 2010
9:45 am

A para educator makes a top salary of 25,000. How can the greatest number of cuts come from the school house? People have no idea the many things that people in the school house do for students. Yes, things are very critical. Our children also feel the pain. For many students school not only provides an education but a safe haven. There is someone to listen to them. Make sure that they eat. Encourage them. Please be honest and realistic. Cuts to the school house will hurt the education of our students. Every one needs to shoulder these burdens. This state complains about the education in Georgia and then cuts resources to schools. Educators in schools pay for lunch for students. They pay for extra supplies. No one has become an educator to get rich. I have more earned degrees in my content field than anyone in my family. I earned my degrees at Georgia State. I make less than anyone in my family. I love teaching. The state must look at other means to fund education. Also, look at the size of the Georgia Department of Education. That would be an exceptionally good place to begin some hard budget cuts. This department’s major function seems to be programs that don’t work. Presenters that read information to their audiences, and make it difficult for educators to teach. The entire state needs help. Whatever you make think, this is not just a DeKalb County problem.

Eleanor

March 27th, 2010
10:06 am

Take away the pay raise given to our Superintendent who has lost all credibility with teachers and parents; take away the raise in perks given to him; put him on leave without pay until all of this garbage he has stirred up has run its course; fire Pat Pope who should have been fired a long time ago; reduce the pay of all who make about $75,000 at Admin offices by 15%; Board members reduce their pay by 15%; reduce the size of the Board by at least two people; and bingo the teachers furlough days won’t happen. And I hope Clueless Crawford does resign and he should have been fired a long time ago. I still get a laugh out of him thinking we are so stupid as to believe he siphoned the gas out of his car when with half a tank he realized he was pumping premium instead of regular gas and didn’t want to damage his car. And he never did say where the gas went that he allegedly siphoned out so guess we have to assume it went into the ground or into another one of his cars? And yes the Governor and the Legislature share the blame but the buck for our schools stops with the Board and the higher echelon for not standing up for our schools and teachers and most importantly students. Guess they all think they will have their cushy jobs into their old age because they are dumbing down our schools and kids who they figure won’t be bright enough to challenge them for their cushy jobs. There are only two Board members who even take the time to answer their emails – Walker and Copelin-Wood; the rest figure we are not deserving of a response.

no mas

March 27th, 2010
10:18 am

@Eleanor –

interesting.

I have been writing to ALL the Board members for months, and I have NEVER received a reply from Walker or Copelin-Wood. Come to think about it, never received a reply from Bowen, Redovian, Speaks, or Cunningham, either.)

CA Civility

March 27th, 2010
11:23 am

In reading the various postings,I see that teachers in Georgia are also having
severe reductions in funding levels. The state of California had a budget
deficit of over 40 billion dollars last year, and is projected to have at least
a 20 billion dollar deficit for the next fiscal year. Education has taken
severe cuts-This year an estimated 22,000 Reduction in Force notices
were sent out throughout the state. I hope the Dekalb Teacher’s Union
and the state union affiliate save as many teaching jobs in Georgia as
possible.Keep your head up Georgia educators,staff ,and administrators
and stay unified to save as many jobs as possible.