Changes are coming to DeKalb schools, according to today’s AJC story. Ty Tagami reports that principals “will have more control over how taxpayers’ money gets spent on education if a major reorganization pushed by the county’s new superintendent rolls out as she promises.”
While posters here believe some board members are out to derail Cheryl Atkinson’s ambitious reforms, the new school chief won an 8-0 vote from the board to move forward. (There was one odd abstention.)
It may be that whatever reservations board members have about revamping the central office and reassigning staff have been overcome by the harsh financial realities facing DeKalb and the community frustration with regressive policies.
The school board met behind closed doors Tuesday for more than three hours with Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson, then emerged for a public vote to approve her proposal to reclassify jobs and alter salaries.
The goal, said Atkinson, is to “drive as many of our resources as we can to schools.”
The net effect: a shift in the oversight of about $109 million in annual spending from central office administrators to principals and a savings of $5.6 million this year, system spokesman Walter Woods said.
Few details were made public Tuesday. The 8-0 vote authorizes Atkinson to proceed with her plan, which will shift oversight over potentially hundreds of central office personnel to principals at more than 100 schools. She and her principals still must determine whether particular positions need to be eliminated and others added.
“This is the first step in a very long process,” school board Chairman Eugene Walker said. He was the lone board member to abstain, but he said his non-vote “had nothing to do with the overall thrust of the superintendent’s plan.”
Walker, of South DeKalb, said he had unanswered “legal” and “fiscal” questions. He said he will have opportunities to vote on specific elements of the plan as details emerge.
A teachers’ representative said he is optimistic about the reorganization.
“Dr. Atkinson has taken action to get salaries more in line with where they should be and to eliminate positions that aren’t needed,” said David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators.
Atkinson wants to “get rid of bloat where this is bloat,” he said, and push resources to classrooms. He said teachers are worried about a budget shortfall next year.
“If the board doesn’t interfere, and they let Dr. Atkinson do her job,” Schutten said, “I’m confident that the school system will be right-sized.”