$3,000 Raise – Q&A With The CFO

Chief Financial Officer Michael Bell answers a few questions we have regarding the $3,000 raise for certified employees.

DeKalb Schools CFO Michael Bell

Dr. Michael Bell
Dekalb Schools Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Q1: Did the state give us funding for $2,775 or $3,000 per employee?

The State raised all salary slots on the State Salary Schedule by $3,000 and has given us $3,000 for all earned certified teachers, school counselors, school social workers, school psychologists, media specialists, special education specialists, and technology specialists.

Q2: Who did the state give us extra funding for? Did they give us funding for all certified employees including psychologists, counselors, social workers and special education specialists?

Language from HB31:
Increase funds to adjust the state base salary schedule to increase salaries for certified teachers and certified staff by $3,000, including a $3,000 increase for school counselors, school social workers, school psychologists, media specialists, special education specialists, and technology specialists effective July 1, 2019.

Note: These increases are for employees the State considers “earned.”

Q3: FTE is going from 100,648 for FY19 to 99,837 for FY20. What kind of savings are we going to realize due to this reduction in provided services? Where is this reflected in the budget?

There have been no imputed savings in the FY2020 Budget based upon the projected FTE decline, assuming a reduction in provided services. It should be noted that FY2020 is the fourth year of projected FTE declines.

Q4: The state DOE says our QBE funds were bumped up by $35 million for the $3,000 increase in teacher salaries. Is that true?

Not that we can ascertain. Our QBE growth for FY2020 is presently $22,092,701; this could indicate that we have already experienced QBE decline based upon FTE decline.
If the state used the same funding formula as last year, would we have received $35 million less due to the reduction in FTE?

Based upon the assumption in your question, yes. However, the State seldom uses the same monetary value for base FTE, (9 thru 12 1.00).

Q5: Seems like the state would work on allotments.

They do not. They work on FTE for most positions and an allotment system for other necessary positions.

Q5 Continued: Is the state funding dependent on how many employees are employed with the school district?

No, except for T&E and health insurance.

Q6: When can we expect to see a detailed budget?

The 36-page document (Tentative Budget) has been distributed on 6/3/19. After the Tentative Budget is acted upon (6/10/19), pending any changes, we will produce the 2100 page detailed FY2020 Budget by 6/13/19.

Q7: We are talking about supplemental salaries for all employees on the teacher salary schedule.

Did the state increase funding enough for psychologists, counselors, social workers and sped specialists? All over the AJC I find statements that say … “The House budget would raise salaries for teachers by $2,775, but it extends that pay raise to more than 9,000 other certified employees including psychologists, counselors, social workers and special education specialists.”

What are your thoughts?

The State gave funding for all EARNED certified employees which includes the groups mentioned in your email. However, we employ significantly more employees than the State considers “earned.”

-Dr. Michael Bell


Q&A Between Marshall Orson and Michael Bell

Orson: How do we lose 128 teachers based on a reduction of just 800 students?

Bell: We lost QBE funding in an amount that translates to 128 teachers. This amount varies based on the dollar values associated with each category of FTE (ie gifted vs. general). This reduction is due to the reduction of overall FTEs.

Orson: Am I reading correctly that we are receiving a net addl $25 million and change (once we figure additions due to the budget increase and subtractions due to smaller allotments)?

Bell: FY2020 Additional QBE Funding – $22,092,201


$3,000 – Teacher Raises Around Metro Atlanta
May 25, 2019 – What are Metro Atlanta school districts doing about the $3,000 per teacher raise Governor Brian Kemp gave to all Georgia public school districts to pass along to their teachers? Dekalb Schools FY2020 Tentative Budget, presented a few weeks ago, did not include that raise for teachers. However, DeKalb Schools Board of Education members have been meeting with senior administrators over the last few days to figure out how to get that money into the hands of the teachers.

44 responses to “$3,000 Raise – Q&A With The CFO

  1. Still Waiting

    Does this mean we are being given our promised funds or not? This is beyond confusing . I just need a simple Yes or No, lol

  2. Stan Jester

    It is undetermined who is getting what. I’m still in the process of figuring out what we were actually given and what was the intent.

  3. Still Dismayed

    HB31 intent seems clear to me. http://www.house.ga.gov/budget/Documents/2019_Session/FY_2020_CC_Highlights.pdf

    Michael Bell’s comments are not clear…sounds like he doesn’t want to box himself into a corner.
    What does “EARNED certified employees” mean?

  4. Marshall Orson’s question is disturbing. Does he mean that DCSD lost funding for 128 teachers in FY20 as compared to FY19? At $48K/teacher or thereabouts, that’s over $6 million.

    Someone needs to look at “earned” positions vs. the number on the payroll.

    I thought that QBE funds were only earned for schools that exceeded a certain FTE count. I think it was 450 students for elementary. DCSD has 14 elementary schools with fewer than 450 students. Could this be a factor in not earning enough QBE funds to pay for raises for all of our teachers/certificated staff?

    Perhaps the increase in “wrap-around services” is a factor here. If Region 6 and 7 schools are flooded with teachers and other support staff that are not earned, then no QBE funds are received for those positions and DCSD alone is responsible for funding the raise.

    On the other hand, DCSD apparently employs many “teachers” who are considered provisional and so I would presume that they are not entitled to the $3000 raise because they don’t yet hold a certificate. Yet DCSD should receive funds for them if the position they hold is earned.

    I just don’t understand why it’s so complicated. It seems like DCSD should know how many certificated personnel it employs and how many of those positions are earned through QBE. Then do the math to verify the QBE fund increase for the earned positions and the shortfall due to having to use local funds for raises to certificated staff who are not earned.

    Stan, it would be nice if the public could see the June 3 version of the budget before the June 10 Budget hearing and BOE meeting. Otherwise, any public comments must be based on data that’s not current.

  5. escapee from dekalb

    And still the classified employees are still waiting on the salary adjustments that were expected in JANUARY. Who thinks this is the right way to treat the employees who work very hard making sure things are running as best they can with our current leadership…..Please clean house NOW!!!

  6. Still Waiting

    I can’t find the pay scale anywhere on the county’s site. And the one I’m seeing from goggling salary is much lower that was listed on my contract. Anyone know why they cleaned their site of everything related to current pay scale?

  7. On behalf of The Therapists

    I sure hope the “intent” was to include the Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapists in this raise. We have been jerked back and forth between pay scales, each time. Years ago Physical and Occupational Therapists were grouped on the pay scale with the Psychologists then we were all put with the teachers. We received pay cuts with that move with a resulting loss of 1/2 our staff. But, we were assured that if teachers received a raise , so would we. Now, we are moved off the teacher scale and are grouped with the counselors and psychologists. So, if the counselors and psychologists get a raise , will we be included or left out? I surely hope we do not fall between the cracks! Many of us got absolutely no raise in January. Thank you. Don’t forget about us.

  8. Asking for simple answers

    I am also still confused and have other questions.. Did they get the salary mess from last fall (whenever) cleaned up, are they going to get the $3000? (Yes or no). Where is the salary schedule posted? Are the salaries of the central staff posted somewhere (where?) and if not, why not?

  9. Asking for simple answers

    Thank you, Stan, for giving us the opportunity to ask questions. I do hope all the above questions and concerns will be clearly answered. Our school system needs continuous oversight when certain facts and information seem unavailable. We can no longer let things like this go without questioning them. That is how we almost lost accreditation last time and had a school system that was in deep, deep trouble.

  10. Concerned Educator

    Stan, Mr. Bell is mistaken, or he is purposely misleading, because HB31 states the following:
    “HB 31 includes a $3,000 pay raise for certified teachers and certified personnel, including counselors, social workers, psychologists, special education specialists, speech and language pathologists, media specialists and technology specialists starting July 1, 2019…”
    As you can see, SLP’s ARE included in the $3000 raise. Mr. Bell is deliberately leaving out speech and language pathologists. PLEASE STOP INSULTING OUR INTELLIGENCE. WE KNOW WHAT HB31 SAYS!

  11. DSW2Contributor

    To Stan & “Still Dismayed”,
    I am not a budgeting expert, but here is my understanding of what is going down.

    I assume that when the CFO refers to “earned” employees, he is referring to *state* funded FTEs. The number of enrolled students in a school district determines how many FTEs that school district “earns” from the state.

    The problem is that many of our certified educators are *federally* funded FTEs. So while our State Governor and Legislature promised raises to all educators, those state politicians do not actually have any authority to increase federal funding ….. so the only way to increase the salaries of the federally funded FTEs is to cut our total number of federally-funded FTEs.

    I don’t know how many federally-funded FTEs we have…. but if there are 400 of them, that is a 400 x $3000 = $1.2 million shortfall that DCSD has to make up for everyone to get the promised $3000 raise.

  12. DSW2Contributor

    Also, I’m disappointed that Dr. Bell does not seem to understand that our educators are paid using two different pots of money: state and federal.

  13. Being more efficient would definitely make it easier to provide higher salaries. Our low utilization in the south part of the county means that there is school infrastructure, and maybe human resources available, for which we don’t receive any state funding as the seat is empty.

    At the end of the day, employee count has stayed the same and we are getting $22m more from the state. We need to work within that $22m. Similar to APS, I would imagine that means that any raise will be less than the $3,000.

  14. Dr. Bell is the worst CFO around. He lies constantly and the board is sleep at the wheel while he does. They have allowed him to play with billions of dollars and run DCSD in the ground. Auditors have questioned his practices and he got an F on the recent procurement officer. HE NEEDS TO GO! Also, I hear the BOARD is increasing his salary to 250,000 while the teachers struggle to get a raise and the hard working employees in the district get nothing. Stan is it true you and the board are considering this increase for Shady Bell.

  15. Stan Jester

    Hello @Jesse. There are two overlapping issues: 1) Senior Administrator Salaries, and 2) Michael Bell is our CFO

    Senior Administrator Salaries – The MAG report included senior administrative positions as part of their Comp & Class study. DeKalb Schools administration is going to bring a proposal before the board that brings the salaries of senior administrative positions in line with other Metro Atlanta school districts. I agree, they are WAY over paid. That being said, DeKalb Schools is having a hard time filling “chief” positions. CIO and COO have recently left for more money. I’m not sure what the final recommendation for administrative salaries will be.

    Bell is our CFO – Dr. Bell and I disagree on a number of things. I’m not happy with the most recent audit among other things. I don’t think the intent of the board is to give Bell a raise for doing a stellar job.

  16. Thanks Stan. What has been done about the purchasing audit? It clearly stated his department was a mess? I am also hearing about issues with cash management and his inability to account for millions of dollars. It just seems that a gets a free pass with no accountability. That man has been in place way to long and his track record from other places he has worked as CFO is horrible. The way to fix talent from leaving is not to pay the bad talent you have in place. If the district was clear focused on the right things they could have possibly avoided those departures. Please make sure he is not rewarded for doing a piss poor job. We blamed HR for issues that Shady Bell should have been held accountable for. How could we possible continue to ignore the incompetence in Finance. Just Amazing.

  17. Stan Jester

    @Jesse, The Superintendent serves at the pleasure of the board. All the other employees of DeKalb Schools serve at the pleasure of the Superintendent. You seem to have a good grasp on the realities. Email me at stanjester@gmail.com if you would like to continue on this one particular subject.

    I have written an article about the audit, but I’m still editing it. The audit is on Monday’s board work session agenda.

  18. Still Dismayed

    “The MAG report included senior administrative positions as part of their Comp & Class study. DeKalb Schools administration is going to bring a proposal before the board that brings the salaries of senior administrative positions in line with other Metro Atlanta school districts.”

    The MAG report wasn’t exactly followed for the messed up January salary restructure for the school house staff. If the MAG report was followed, I would have received a $5100.00 annual increase. Instead I received $0.00 Nor did I receive an explanation email from HR to include the new salary structure I am being paid on. I hope that is taken into consideration when the BOE is looking at the administration’s proposal!

    Compound this with previously having gone through a huge pay reduction when moved onto the teacher salary scale and now possibly not receiving the $3000 HB31 raise because I have been moved off the teacher salary schedule…
    it’s exasperating!

  19. Rosa Johnson

    @Stillwaiting the salary schedule is posted under employee on the district website site log in then division then HC and the salaries are posted there.

  20. Concerned Educator

    In my opinion, for the DCSD BOE to approve the $3000 pay raise for some certified staff and not others is discriminatory. And, for the DCSD BOE to deny ALL certified staff the $3000 raise is criminal!

    I do not know whom you guys are listening to, but it is obvious that they do NOT know what they are doing (example: the January pay raise debacle)! These people are trying to play politics, instead of trying to solve problems. Time after time these so-called advisors/consultants have led the BOE down the wrong path, but you keep on listening to them! Are they major campaign donors? Are they bribing/blackmailing you? Why are they NOT allowing you to do what is right? Psalm 1 says “Blessed is the man who walks NOT in the counsel of the unGodly…” As an ordained minister, I strongly recommend the BOE follow this precept. If you do what is right in God’s sight (even if you are not a believer), you and all involved will win. But if you continue to allow your advisors/consultants to play politics with peoples’ livelihoods, nothing will ever change. I firmly believe that the liberals/Democrats who run the DCSD do not want to give the certified staff their mandated pay raise, because they are afraid that such an action will politically benefit Brian Kemp and/or the Republicans. Well, I have news for you, NOT giving the raise will benefit Gov. Kemp and the Republicans much more, because they will be able to point to the fact that they provided the $3000 raise, but the liberals/Democrats who run the school system refused to give it to the certified staff, because they do not care about their educator base at all!

  21. Still Dismayed

    From previous Stan post…

    “@Tamara, Good question. You are correct. There are two big reasons why we are not making this permanent.
    1. This is our first round with the new Governor. We are not sure if his budget increase is permanent.
    2. TSA case should be settled by the end of the year. That’s potentially $100 million the school district could have to pay out.”

    Just one more comment…I am one that will (hopefully) benefit when the TSA lawsuit is finally settled after 10 years! Having said that, I do not think it fair to withholding the $3000 HB31 raise from ANY certified staff because of a pending lawsuit and possible financial setback to the school system. I would wager that the majority of current certified staff were not even working for DCSS when the TSA lawsuit was filed. DCSS has had many years to prepare for the possibility of losing this lawsuit and should not take advantage of teachers/certified staff to cover the cost of any damages incurred.

  22. The financials of the system have to be considered within the scope of providing raises to employees. That’s exactly what APS did.

  23. jarring55@gmail.com


    Thanks for bringing these questions forward in simply worded language that is more easily understandable.

    We look forward to being better prepared for the upcoming public hearing meetings.

  24. Dear Stan
    Thank you for trying to provide us with information. Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton are three school systems that have already stated that their teachers and other staff members will at least get the 3,000 dollars given by the governor. In some cases, the employees will get even more. In DeKalb we are uncertain about what will be passed on to which employees. So people living in DeKalb are being asked to give the school system more money. I think most people support the schools and would pay more for the education of all children. But it seems like DeKalb does not have practices in place to monitor the money that is has already been given. If we continue down the same road, will be in this same position next year? How is money being spent? Are the schools, departments and spending being audited?

    DeKalb Schools Request Tax Increase

  25. Thirty Years Dedicated

    You know Dekalb could really afford to give us the raise if 1) we didn’t pay assistant principals every summer an additional week to work for no reason in June to do summer school if we start it a week earlier. This year we will start transition camp June 17th!!! and pay assistant principals an additional salary to stay on for one week beyond their contract, as usual, because of poor planning in the curriculum and instruction department! But who cares, its just tax payers and Title 1 funds!, and 2) we hired associate superintendents and cabinet members with fidelity and did background checks to ensure they don’t have criminal records! I wonder if other school districts hire upper level leaders with arrests and criminal records like DCSD does and pay them the hefty salaries that come along with their no-record, no-data, non-supportive records in school they served prior to being promoted.

  26. concerned citizen

    This is so true, Thirty Years Dedicated. It’s really so ridiculous the APs can’t believe it themselves. It is throwing away our money! But, you know, it’s DeKalb County, so anything goes for friends and families. The whole system is a pure mess. We need a fresh start. We need a house cleaning, starting with a lame duck supt. and continuing into the upper ranks, including principals hired and placed by Green. The extra money paid to APs has got to stop. Why is it that nobody can get this school system under control? My vote goes to Stan Jester for supt. He is a strong leader with real courage. We need him to get things worked out. I hope the Board itself sees that Stan Jester can and will do the job that nobody has been doing since Jim Cherry and Dr. Hinson – strong-armed leadership. And what is this with Dr. Bell? He must be incredibly low-level, and he just doesn’t get it!

  27. Novel idea, why doesn’t Dekalb just not pay the $3,000 increase to the staff who don’t qualify! It’s not teachers, counselors, etc fault that Dekalb county overstaffs the system with non essential staff. I have never seen schools will less than 800 students that was meeting all needed performance measures have 3 instructional support coaches before coming to Dekalb.

  28. Stan Jester

    @Confused. Please expound on your example.

  29. Rose Johnson,
    You shouldn’t have to log in to view the salary schedule, it should be under the compensation section of the regular website. You don’t need to be an employee to view the salary schedule under normal circumstances, it was taken down.

  30. Stan,
    For example, there is a middle school in Dekalb that has a student body population of about 800 students. This past year they were allotted an additional Assistant principal and an additional instruction support coach, when they already had 2 of each. So now they have 3 AP’s and 3 instructional coaches and the need is not there! It is a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars. Michael Bell stated that Dekalb has additional staff that don’t fall under the “earned” category the governor set. So why don’t they just not get the raise if they don’t fall under the predetermined category? Like I said, Dekalb has way too much staff.

  31. @Confused: In referance to the salaries posted,normal or not that’s where it’s posed!

  32. Stan
    “DeKalb Schools administration is going to bring a proposal before the board that brings the salaries of senior administrative positions in line with other Metro Atlanta school districts.”
    The school administration has not been able to give the correct pay to so many staff members based on recommendations from the MAG study, but now they are concerned that upper level administration may not be making enough. I think that this is such a bad message to the employees salaries that have never been corrected.
    But is the salary the real reason that we are losing people in those positions? It does not seem like the reason that Dr. Gregory in HR left.

  33. escapee from dekalb

    and Joy– there are classified employees that were told a raise was coming– we are looking out for you, there will be equity- are still waiting. they were told they would hear something in June. June is slipping away.These dedicated employees are exactly the ones you call when your air is out, plumbing broken, power not working… when will these employees be treated properly?

  34. Still Dismayed

    RE: “HB 31 includes a $3,000 pay raise for certified teachers and certified personnel, including counselors, social workers, psychologists, special education specialists, speech and language pathologists, media specialists and technology specialists starting July 1, 2019…”…

    You previously posted: “It is undetermined who is getting what. I’m still in the process of figuring out what we were actually given and what was the intent.”

    Any additional info (after above communication w/CFO Bell) on including all certified staff in HB 31 salary increase?

  35. Dr Bell hasn’t responded to any of my follow up questions.

  36. concerned citizen

    That’s because, Stan, Dr. Bell doesn’t know what you’re talking about; it’s that simple.

  37. Still Dismayed

    Finally good news for teachers in DeKalb! Two questions:
    1) Does this include ALL certified staff as HB31 intended?
    2) Is this a salary schedule change or a one time supplement as previously suggested in an earlier post?


  38. Given that we don’t know if the Governor/Legislature will use the same QBE formula next year and the pending TSA liabilities … it will probably just be a supplement. I expect it to be passed on again next year if the school district is given it next year.

  39. The TSA lawsuit. The “gift” that keeps on taking.

    First, in 2009 the teachers don’t receive proper notice that contributions will cease.

    Now, the risk of the TSA litigation is limiting the resources to properly compensate teachers today.

    It’s probably prudent to make the budget with the TSA risk in mind.

    But it’s shameful that the decision 10 years ago (July 27, 2009), when Crawford Lewis was Superintendent, is still causing harm to teachers and students.

    I just re-read this Agenda item. Shame on the BOE for not being more knowledgeable about their own policies, but nowhere in the Agenda item does it mention the requirement that 2 years’ notice is required. Shame on the Administration for keeping this quiet.

    Or maybe it was a “wink-wink” arrangement, where both the BOE and the Superintendent knew it was against policy but decided to ignore that.

  40. Jesus was a carpenter

    Anonymous-Admin,supervisors,technicians,mechanics also lost their TSA,but not all employees.TSA contributions from DCSD never stopped for some.

  41. Still Waiting

    Take a look of how a competent school system is ran with expertise and professionalism . A 4 teachers from my current school are now employed in Fulton and are shocked at their efficiency . Fulton has already updated pay scale with 3,000 supplement . They know exactly when they are receiving funds :


  42. @Still Waiting,
    I love that Fulton includes a statement that the raise is “non-entitled salary and considered year to year.”

    They are making sure that teachers and other certified staff understand that this increase isn’t necessarily on-going. DCSD needs to manage expectations as well.

    But first, of course, DCSD needs to make accurate salary information available, LOL.

  43. How can we find out who got to keep receiving TSA funds?

  44. Stan,
    Are the Administrators in the buildings receiving the $ 3,000 raise? I read an article in the AJC and all certified employees in the building were receiving the raise, but the administrators were not included. If this is the case the counselors will make more money then the AP in the elementary school and work less time. Please verify, thank you!

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