DeKalb Schools FY2017 Budget Highlights

DeKalb Schools Budget

Here are the highlights for the budget and millage rate approved by the DeKalb County Board of Education last night.  I was the lone dissenting vote for both the millage rate and the budget.  My position is the millage rate should be reduced by significantly more than .35 mills and the budget should be realigned to focus more on the classroom and less on the bureaucracy.  I support increasing teacher pay but I oppose the expansion of, and the raises given to, central office staff.

3% Raises
A 3% raise will be given in the Fall to all full time employees (school house and central office). This will be the 3rd raise for teachers in 12 months.
Signing & Retention Bonus
Existing teachers will receive a $500 retention bonus and new teachers will receive a signing bonus anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 (retention bonuses paid in one of the October 2016 checks).
Millage Rate
The Millage Rate will be reduced from 23.73 mills to 23.38 mills (which is a .35 mill reduction). Despite the token reduction in the millage rate, your school district taxes will increase by approximately 8% this year.  Your school property taxes have been increasing each year with the same silent method – as your property value rises the school district refuses to significantly lower the millage to compensate for this growth in value.
In 2014, I wrote about how many residents saw a 13% school property tax increase.
Keep in mind, growth in property taxes from the county and city governments are held in check by the assessment freeze.   This freeze does not apply to school taxes.  As your property value improves, generally, your county and city government taxes can only be assessed on your “frozen” property value.  You do not get the benefit of a “frozen” assessment for the purposes of calculating your school taxes.
(Note:  You may Appeal Your DeKalb County Property Value Assessment.  It is recommended that you appeal your property assessment every four years whether you agree with the assessment or not.  The appeal will freeze your assessed value for three years.)
DeKalb Schools is lowering the millage rate by only 1.5%. The .35 mill equates to roughly $7 million. DeKalb Schools continues to have the second highest millage rate in the state out of 180 school districts.
Substitute Teachers
In 2011 DCSD decreased substitute pay to $80/day for short term substitutes and $90/day for long term (20+ days) substitutes. (Note: There are higher qualifications for long term subs and most of the time they are retired teachers.)
On average, DCSD paid instructional subs less than the market midpoint for both short and long-term subs. (Market Midpoint: $94/day for short term and $113/day for long term substitutes.) DeKalb Schools FY2017 budget will pay short term subs $95/day and long term subs $115/day.
School Nurses
DeKalb Schools currently staffs a nurse at every elementary school. The FY2017 budget will attempt to staff a school nurse at every school.
Fund Balance – Money in the bank
The school district started FY2016 with roughly $93 million in the bank. It is estimated that in FY2016 the school district collected about $912 million but only spent $873 million and will end FY2016 later this year with roughly $130 million in the bank.
Furlough Days
Non certified employees had 2-3 furlough days depending on income level. There will be no more furlough days in FY2017.
Student Support and Intervention
FY2017 will also include $44 million for a newly created Student Support and Intervention Division. That includes funding an additional $2 million over last year for the new nurses and another $6 million over last year for new student support and intervention services.  The other $36 million will come from existing infrastructure.
Superintendent Green believes that behavioral problems can result from issues in the home, issues in which entire families may need help. The school district intends to provide intensified wrap-around support. This support may include counseling, social work, psychological services, and community connections. As part of this effort the schools will implement Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports during the 2016-17 school year.
Teacher Allotments
The $16 million increase in teacher allotments is based on student growth and the formula for staffing the school house has not changed.
New Briarcliff/Druid Hills Elem
Renovating the old ISC (International Student Center) building will come out of SPLOST funds. $2.9 million from the General Fund will be spent on staffing and non discretionary items (books, desks, chairs, etc…). Pursuant to the Approved Cross Keys Redistricting Plan, overflow from Montclair ES, roughly 394 students, will go to school at the ISC building starting this Fall.
Regional Superintendent – Mini Cabinet – $20.7 million will be spent supporting the Regional Superintendent Micro Cabinet. The idea is to give each regional superintendent and micro cabinet autonomy to run their region like an independent school district.

Related Documents
Note: These documents do not reflect a .35 reduction in the millage rate, the raise in the substitute rates nor the additional nurses for all middle and high schools.
.pdf link icon  DCSD FY2017 Adopted Tentative Budget (adopted 6-6-2016)
.pdf link icon  FY2017 DCSD Tentative Budget Detail
.pdf link icon  FY2017 DCSD Tentative Budget Summary
.pdf link icon  2016 Tax Digest and Five Year History of Levy
.pdf link icon  2016 Notice of Property Tax Increase
.pdf link icon MetroRESA Non Teaching Personnel Salaries – FY 2016
.pdf link icon DCSD FY2016 Site-Based Budget Total by FTE by Region

Related Posts

Approved FY2017 Budget Highlights
June 22, 2016 – Here are the highlights for the budget and millage rate approved by the DeKalb County Board of Education last night. I was the lone dissenting vote for both the millage rate and the budget.

DeKalb Schools Proposed 2016-2017 Budget
May 13, 2016 – Total expenditures in all funds including the General fund, ESPLOST (capital outlay) and grants (special revenue), is $1.2 billion.

28 responses to “DeKalb Schools FY2017 Budget Highlights

  1. Why is $20 million needed to run each region like a mini District? Was it included in the approved budget as such and what is the intention what are they supposed to do with the money ? How will parents stakeholders and taxpayers know how this money has been spent wisely?

  2. Stan Jester

    A majority of the $20 million comes from a reclassification of existing positions. The Central Office ReOrg Phase III goes into that. I’ve included links to the budget summary and detailed budget so you can see how the budget was laid out.
    We’ll know how successful this is when the Regional Superintendent and their teams start making decisions that were historically sent up to the central office senior administration.

  3. Briarcliff – old school?
    Please identify which ‘old school’, location and timeline for renovation.
    Which feeder schools are slotted for this school?

  4. HA Hurley, sorry about the confusion. I have cleaned up the post a little.
    Pursuant to the Approved Cross Keys Redistricting Plan, overflow from Montclair ES, roughly 394 students, will go to school at the ISC building starting this Fall.
    Note: Why not use the former Briarcliff HS facility?
    The former Briarcliff HS facility, located on Druid Hills Road next to the former ISC facility and Adams Stadium, has been unused for several years, and it is impossible to prepare it to be available for use by the Fall of 2016.  It is possible that the facility may be a strategic asset in finding long term solutions to overcrowding in the Cross Keys cluster, but it is not usable as a short term solution.

  5. Stan,
    Thank you for this overview of the budget and for voting for the schoolhouse and students with your dissenting vote. It’s sad that your colleagues continue the status quo.
    Will the stakeholders in each region be provided the names of the individuals who will serve in the mini cabinets – for example, who the contact is for finances, HR, facilities, curriculum, etc?
    What line item will be used from the SPLOST funds for the renovation of the ICS building? Schools are being told all the SPLOST funds have been committed.
    Would you explain what “come from existing infrastructure” means as it relates to the $36 million for student support? Does that mean programs/services students are currently getting will be continued but they have been pulled from some other line item into this new category? Is it accurate that there will be an additional $6 million for the additional extensive wrap around services? Can you post the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports plan that will be implemented or direct us to that document?
    Thank you.

  6. Stan Jester

    Micro Cabinets – The contact information for the Regional Superintendent micro cabinets would be a good thing to have. Asking your Regional Superintendent for that information seems like a reasonable request.
    SPLOST Funds
    The Board of Education doesn’t have much insight into SPLOST funds. The E-SPLOST Advisory Committee (formerly known as the E-SPLOST Oversight Committee) should be able to give you the information you’re looking for.
    Student Support & Intervention
    Dr. Vasanne Tinsley is the Deputy Superintendent of Student Support & Intervention. This is what she had to say about the additional expenses in that division. “When the division of student support and intervention was created, one of the areas that came over was Career Technology. The Career Technology Agriculture Education budget is a large budget. The funds that come from Perkins and other federal funds as well as the personnel, that falls under the department of student advancement which was a newly created department in the division of Student Support”

  7. Retired DEKALB teacher

    All this looks pretty on paper but there is still a lot of questions Green has not answered. I remain skeptical of his intentions with ALL THAT MONEY.
    I FEEL TEACHERS remain at the bottom of the list.

  8. Provisional Certificate

    Please explain if teachers who have provisional certificates qualify for the bonuses?

  9. Stan Jester

    I believe it’s a 3% increase in all the steps across the board for all teachers.

  10. Is this 3% the same 3% the state/governor is giving to school districts with the strong recommendation it be used for teacher salaries…in other words, is it a pass along? If so, it seems the message DCSD keeps sending the teachers is that it still wants to hang onto money for the central office, not the schoolhouse. With the reserves, DCSD could give more than a 3% raise. Even though our salaries are higher than most in metro Atlanta, the number of staff that continue to leave and the number of positions we continue to have to fill each year is more significant than other districts. Our behaviors are slow to change; consequently, our reputation is slow to change.

  11. Hi, thank you for the updates on board meetings and the district. 2 questions. First, are all personnel on the teacher salary schedule eligible for the $500 retention bonus or is that only for teachers? Next, based on the history of step increases on the district’s website, no step increases have been given since January 2008. Can we finally expect a step increase?

  12. joel jackson

    When will the new pay scale be posted?

  13. Stan Jester

    That 3% is Governor Deal’s 3% Raise For All Georgia’s Teachers Next Fall. A larger percent of the operational budget will be spent on instruction than the school district has spent in years. I believe we should be spending a lot more on instruction than we are, but it’s at least a step in the right direction.
    I’m not sure how the 3% raise for teachers will be implemented. I doubt it will be step increase. They’ll probably adjust all the steps by 3%.
    I don’t know when the new scale will be posted. The board did some last minute massaging of the budget numbers. The district will spend a lot of time calculating, finalizing and publishing all these new numbers. Hopefully we’ll get a notification of when the new pay scale is out.

  14. How can Dekalb County Schools attract professional certified educators without providing applicants a current pay scale? No excuses!
    DCS educators sign contracts ‘blindly’ because salaries are not listed on each contract. Any wonder that educators do not feel they are treated as professionals, and many leave. Retaining excellent staff is critical to “growing” a good school system. Given the history of DCS and its frozen salaries, furlough days and no step increases have cut deeply into teachers’ morale and retirement incomes. All impact retaining experienced teachers. Hard to attract new highly trained teachers. Teach for America “teachers” have no teaching credentials, no training (only 5 weeks in the summer) and contribute little to the neediest students in the systems. DCS used to be one of the BEST school systems not only because of high socioeconomic residents, but also a choice system for teachers to work in. We have lost thousands of them.
    Again, a new Superintendent, new BoE…same old everything else?

  15. Seen it all

    I worked with the Teach for America teachers.Although I don’t agree with the two year commitment , they were smart, hard working, caring and dedicated teachers. Some stayed beyond their commitment, and some figured out it was not for them. This is more than I can say for a lot of teachers DeKalb allows to remain in the district. DeKalb will not attract quality teachers who stay long term until they improve the culture in their schools.

  16. I have to agree. How can DeKalb schools hope to retain experienced teachers without giving them credit for their experience? When I graduated a couple years ago, I was given offers with DeKalb and Fulton. I chose DeKalb because I wanted to give back to the county where I live. But as I watch other counties continue to get raises AND their steps, I feel the need to reconsider where I work. I did not get into the field for the money, but do need to consider my financial stability as I continue to pay off my loans and begin to think about retirement in the distant future.

  17. While the school district will be giving the teachers their 3rd raise in 12 months come this Fall along with retention bonuses, we can’t just raise the pay scale every year. We need to unfreeze the steps. Right now DeKalb teacher salaries should be at or above the metro average across the board.
    Here’s the current starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree in Georgia’s seven largest school districts:
    1. Atlanta $44,312
    2. DeKalb $42,500
    3. Fulton $41,916
    4. Cobb $41,330
    5. Gwinnett $41,028
    6. Clayton $40,962
    7. Forsyth $40,790

  18. I know we have become more competitive with starting salaries, which is appreciated. But lets discuss a hypothetical situation- a new teacher with a bachelor’s degree who started in DeKalb in 2008-2009. Since that teacher has not received a step increase since starting, they are still receiving the starting salary ($42,500 as you stated above). However, for example, in Fulton, that same teacher would be on Step 9, and would receive $48,312 for the upcoming school year. That is almost a $6,000 difference.
    Additionally, if this hypothetical teacher is going to retire after 30 years, they will never reach step 31 and will inevitably have to retire on a lower income.
    Therefore, based on my understanding, we have made some progress. However, we have a ways to go if we truly want to be competitive with surrounding counties, and be able to recruit and retain experienced and qualified teachers.
    I remember reading the book, “Good to Great”. Jim Collins stated, “to build a successful organization and team you must get the right people on the bus.” My hope is for DeKalb CSD to become a great school system because our kids deserve it. But to do so, we need to be able to recruit the best teachers and staff members.
    I know our input on this blog is not going to make a huge difference. However, I appreciate your willingness to accept input and sharing our voices with the board. I can only speak for myself, but I cannot foresee myself resigning my contract again if the step increases are not unfrozen (or at least a date is set to unfreeze them). I have struggled with this decision because my heart is with DeKalb and my students, but as often quoted, “putting yourself first doesn’t mean you don’t care about others. It means you’re smart enough to know you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first”.
    (Source for Fulton salaries:

  19. AG ~ Excellent comments!
    Thousands of retired teachers from DCS took massive hits to their TRS retirement. Life-career teachers are becoming rarer every year. Pensions are on the chopping blocks in many states. Teachers are not eligible for Social Security, their own or their spouse’s, therefore, pensions are extremely important. The national bashing of teachers has become a saloon sport and few lawmakers or corporate profiteers care about teachers and children. Only high test scores translate into $M profits for them.
    Teachers, the cheaper the better!??

  20. Stan Jester

    I believe our biggest Return On Investment is where the rubber hits the road, in the classroom. I’m disheartened that the school district has never been in compliance with the 65% classrooms expenditures law.
    Competitive Teacher Salaries in DeKalb?
    In January of this year teachers received an increase of up to $14,000 to make their salary comparable to the average annual salary of other metro Atlanta school districts. The plan was to increase teachers’ salaries to the metro averages for those with 7 to 17 years of experience. All other teachers received a 2% increase.
    In January, this was the Metro Teacher With Bachelors Comparison. It accounts for teacher step freezes. At the time a teacher with 7 years experience in DeKalb was making $44,109 and $44,748 in Fulton. Those teachers in DeKalb with 7 years experience were given a raise in January of $1,077 to $45,186 annually. Additionally, all teachers will be given another 3% raise this Fall.
    Social Security / 403(b)
    Many school systems pay 7.5% into Social Security every year. DeKalb Schools does not. It does, however, do a 2% Employee Contribution Match
    BTW … more DeKalb County School District employees read your comments than you might think.

  21. When will new teachers receive the signing bonus?

  22. Stan Jester

    A $500 retention bonus will be paid to teachers who are currently employed, and sign a contract to teach with DCSD in SY16-17. The retention bonus will be paid in October 2016.

  23. it is not fair to offer retained teachers a 500 bonus and give others 2-3k.

  24. A signing bonus of $1K – $3K is to attract teachers to DeKalb. $500 retention bonus and 3% raise for DeKalb’s current teachers. It’s a reality of the market place for teachers.

  25. Doraville guy

    Good day Stan! I tried calling the central office today to get information about when in October the retention bonus will be paid to us returning employees. could you give me more information about when we can expect that? thank you so much.

  26. Doraville Guy, I’m not sure which October check retention bonuses will find themselves in.

  27. Why were School Media Specialists denied the bonus? They are certified teachers who teach every student in the school.

  28. Other than classroom teachers, all other certified employees who are paid on the teacher salary were denied the resigning bonus. This includes media specialist, school counselors, social workers, SLPs, school psychologists, LTSEs, etc. I think that the district should reconsider giving all individuals on the teacher salary the resigning bonus, as the district also struggles to recruit and retain these essential support personnel as well.