More dramatic school budget news, this time out of DeKalb where a hired consultant has recommended the financially battered system cut 129 assistant principal jobs and scores of other positions in order to save money.
Like every other metro system, DeKalb is staring down a gaping deficit. School board member Paul Womack, who is chair of the board’s budget committee, estimates it may be a $77 million deficit.
But it sounds unlikely that the school chief will fully adopt the consultant’s advice and slash that many APs.
The report by Virginia-based Management Advisory Group says the school system has too many employees when compared with peers, and the system could save more than $15 million in payroll and benefits by cutting the assistant principals, plus 40 school secretaries and 11 media specialists. The consultants also recommended looking for savings in other positions, including art, music and physical education teachers, mail couriers, graduation coaches and custodians.
Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson has called a meeting for Friday to vote on cutting 182 employees, for a savings of $12.7 million.
System spokesman Walter Woods said he didn’t know which positions Atkinson wanted to cut, but said she would not be doing what the consultant recommended.
“We would never fire 130 [assistant principals],” Woods said. “It would never happen. We would never even consider it.”
Management Advisory Group is being paid up to $175,420 to determine the need for all 15,000 school system positions. In January, the consultant issued a report that said DeKalb had at least 300 too many employees on the central office payroll.
Atkinson then got the board to approve shifting hundreds of positions from that central payroll out to the payrolls of more than 100 school principals. The shifted personnel included instructional coaches, psychologists and physical therapists who already were working in the schools, but not reporting to principals. It meant about $109 million in personnel spending went from administrators out to the principals.
The idea was to allow principals to decide whether they were needed. Woods said in February, when the board approved that shift, it would save $5.6 million this year, but this week he couldn’t say how many of the positions were actually eliminated.
“We did not get rid of 300 people, or anything close to it,” he said, referring to the consultant’s January recommendation.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog