UPDATED at 1:42 p.m.
Here is the official response to my questions about the DeKalb school system’s ad seeking a secretary with a high school diploma or GED and at least a year’s experience for a position that pays between $53,186 and $72,285
If you read the original blog I posted at midnight, you will see that many posters are stunned by this level of pay, which exceeds what some teachers with advanced degrees earn.
This came just now from DeKalb spokesman Walter Woods: Below is my response to him about his explanation:
Appreciate the opportunity to respond. I saw the teacher’s post on Get Schooled this a.m. and they, and some of the posters, make valid points. The School System’s resources and attention should be in the classroom, not the central office.
That said, DeKalb Schools is advertising for the position, which has been vacant since March. The salary range is based on the position description from eight years ago.
You may know that we are in the process of assigning new salary ranges. The School System just this week hired an independent firm to review every salary in the central office, including positions like this one. That review will be complete by Jan. 15. So, today, we don’t actually know what the salary will be for this position.
The review is meant to compare this and other salaries with comparable positions in other districts. It will also look at the number of positions in each department, with the intent of finding areas where the School System can save resources and drive them back into the classroom.
Also, a word on teacher compensation: The Theory of Action for Change,the mission document outlining how the new leadership plans to improve school and student success, was endorsed by the Board of Education Oct. 31. A key part of that plan focuses on compensating and recognizing teachers. We firmly believe that enhancing teacher compensation and recognition is a powerful way to move the School System forward, and we hope to announce new ideas and initiatives around this in the coming months.
My response to Woods:
I don’t understand why the salary was this high eight years ago based on the description, which sounds like a standard secretarial post.
Also, why does that matter? The world is far different today and companies adjust their salaries to supply and demand — and right now there is a massive supply.
Was this job created for a specific individual eight years ago?
Again, given today’s realities, why doesn’t DeKalb simply lower the salary per those being paid for similar positions in the private sector or in other school systems?
I have suggested that AJC news do a news story on this job posting and that is now in the works. In the meantime, DeKalb spokesman Walter Woods sent me a follow-up e-mail in response to a second e-mail from me about getting answers to the questions above.
I think that the main question still remains unanswered: Why not either hold off filling this job until the new salaries are set or lower the salary to reflect the market conditions?
Here is his latest response, which I still think falls short of responding to the obvious questions about why this salary is so high when the job requirements appear so minimal:
You are correct, times have changed, and we agree with many of the points you and your readers have raised. And I’ll tell you this is not the only forum where this has come up. In Dr. Atkinson’s meetings with teachers and parents in recent weeks, many questions about the efficiency of central office staff have been raised, and rightly so.
That’s why Dr. Atkinson insisted that the salary and position review happen immediately, not next year, not next summer, but now. And she ordered that it had to be complete by January so we can urgently address
the issues people in the community have raised about central office staff.
In the mean time, the School System has to proceed under the current system, and has advertised for open positions in a number of departments using the previous salary range from 2004.
We expect to have a new organizational chart of positions and salaries early next year, and again, the intent of the study is to find efficiencies in how the central office operates.
But, I would urge your readers and people in the community to continue posting, blogging, raising their hand at community forums and speaking their mind about the job we are doing. We’re making a number of decisions based on what we’re hearing from parents and citizens, and we want people in the community to know we’re responsive to the best of our ability.
That led to this follow-up from me to Woods:
I remain confused and need these simple questions answered as I think they speak to the heart of the issue and the credibility of the system:
Why does this job have to be filled now when there is so much in flux, including the salary review?
Is there a legal compulsion to fill it now and at such a high salary range? If there is no legal compulsion, why not wait?
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog