DeKalb Schools has the worst paid teachers in the Atlanta Metro area.
Metropolitan Regional Educational Service Agency (Metro RESA) has conducted a Teacher Salary analysis for the 2016-2017 school year. The report presents actual teacher salaries being paid at each T Level and Step Level across the state.
The tables in this report offer a comparative view of teacher salaries actually being paid .
• DeKalb Schools 2016–2017 Teacher Salary Schedule
• Metro RESA Salary Schedule Comparison
• DeKalb Schools has the second highest millage rate in the state.
• Several school systems provided Bonuses this year, all bonuses have not been added to system salary schedules.
• Teacher Specialist (T-6) & Teacher Doctorate (T-7) not shown here but are in the related docs.
DeKalb Schools Teacher Salary Schedule
T-5: Teacher Master’s (T-5)
T-4: Teacher Bachelor’s (T-4)
Teacher Master’s (T-5) – Rank
Rank: Each step in the the teacher salary schedule was ranked from 1 – 6 for the 6 major metro Atlanta school districts. This table represents how many times they achieved that rank. A teacher in DeKalb with a Masters degree can look forward to spending half their career as the worst paid teacher in Metro Atlanta.
|Teacher Master’s (T-5) – Rank|
Teacher Master’s (T-5) Metro Atlanta Teacher Schedules
The Average is from the 6 major metro Atlanta schools and the Difference (Diff) is where DeKalb Schools is compared to the average. DeKalb schools is above average in 5 of the 32 steps.
|Teacher Master’s (T-5) – Metro Atlanta Teacher Schedules|
Teacher Bachelor’s (T-4)
|Teacher Bachelor’s (T-4) – Rank|
The difference that is NOT stated is that in other counties, teachers regularly move up a step each year. For each number of years they work, it reflects on the step. In DeKalb the step increase is FROZEN. A teacher can NOT move up a step REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY YEARS TEACHING. For example, there was a wonderful Spanish teacher at my son’s Middle School. She came in one Step 1. She taught there for 6 years. She never moved beyond the STEP ONE PAY GRADE. She left and went to another district that would recognize the number of years she taught.
If DeKalb is going to post salary information, then post it accurately with the freeze information.
In addition there are no retirement contributions, or no social security. For the unfortunate teachers stuck on step 1 indefinitely who can’t afford to pay into their 403 B, they have NO retirement. Except from whatever small amount they might get from TRS of Georgia. So- a teacher at level 1 for 30 years gets 60% of year one salary. They are expected to live on that?!?
Yes. DeKalb teachers are among the WORST paid in Georgia.
Stan can you please explain how we are able to keep our millage rate high even though our school system does not operate the junior college system anymore?
Steps – At the last board meeting I asked the superintendent to reinstate steps for DeKalb teachers. That is a discussion we will have in the next budgeting cycle. I was asking around this morning, but I can’t confirm what other school districts are stepping.
Additional Retirement – As you may know, there is 403(b) 2% Employee Contribution Match. I would like that to be 2% absolute and not just matching.
Millage Rate over 20 Mills – In 1971 there was a public referendum in DeKalb to raise the max millage rate to 25 mills with no expiration date. Until that is legislated out, adjudicated out or another referendum is held … the cap will be 25 mills in DeKalb. Note: HB 969 was dropped this past legislative session to do just that. It didn’t go anywhere, but quite a few people have noticed that DeKalb has the 2nd highest millage rate in the state.
This should come as no surprise. DeKalb County has NEVER put the minimum ratio of spending into the classroom to overall spending (re: teacher pay) required by Georgia law. It would be interesting to see the same comparison chart of administrative salaries, as well as one showing the admin-to-classroom ratio of employees. It’s hard to imagine that DeKalb does not still have one of the most bloated non-teacher staffs in the state.
Good question DavidS. Here is the change in Spending Since 1996 in DeKalb on administration, staff services and instruction over the last 18 years (Note: it hasn’t been updated in a couple years). Here is directory of every school district
Also, I’ve read a lot in the AJC about how many teachers in DeKalb have to live further out in the metro to afford housing and then commute very long distances to school. This burdens them with even more expenses coupled with lower pay. I love my daughter’s teachers – I think they are amazing in what they do everyday and how professional and loving they are. I just wish everyone recognized how profound an impact on society they have and would pay them in accordance.
Steps- asking and receiving are very different things.
These tables are false. Misleading to the public at best. They DO NOT accurately represent teacher salaries. They are not comparative. We are not comparing equal factors.
Jason, Lot’s of accusations. Please go into more detail.
LOL, Stan, let me break this down for you.
You are misleading the public to think that DeKalb has competitive teacher salaries, that are current and up to date with the other counties listed. When in fact, this is simply not true. It may be for the first year. But the second year, a teacher in Cobb will move to step 2 while DeKalb stays step 1. The following year a teacher in Cobb moved to stap 3, Dekalb, step 1… and so on and so on… until 10 years later, we have a teacher in DeKalb with 10 years of experience, on step 1, while our neighbors in Cobb are on a step 10.
Your published tables do not accurately reflect this situation. These are very misleading to the public.
Hmmm … I’m not sure what part of “DeKalb – The Worst Paid Teachers Around” would lead anybody to believe that DeKalb has competitive teacher salaries.
This study makes no assumptions about future teacher earnings. It is strictly a snap shoot of the teacher salary schedule today. I would like to know which metro Atlanta school districts are stepping. I’ve started asking the superintendent to step our teachers.
Teacher salary schedules have changed drastically every year for the last couple years across Atlanta. I’m confident by next year they will change again. DeKalb’s will change in January.
We don’t pay our teachers but yet pay crooked and misguided board employees out the wazoo. We build additions that aren’t needed nor wanted by a majority of people vs. just building one additional school. The county has so much money at its disposal and we can’t afford to pay our teachers. B.S.!!!
Stan, I will support any effort to increase teacher pay in Dekalb. This data should be an embarrassment to DCSD.
I, too, support any and all efforts to restore teachers’ step increases. It’s no wonder we lose so many great teachers to other school systems and private schools. My youngest child is still mourning the loss of Jennifer Herb to Cliff Valley School after only one year of teaching Language Arts at HMS. She was amazing!
There is no building, athletic facility, textbook, computer, musical instrument, test, or curriculum that is more impactful on the lives of our children than a professional teacher who cares deeply for the well-being and success of his or her students.
How do you think the schedule is going to change in January? I was really disappointed this year when I saw that I was supposed to be getting another 3% according to the state, and it turned out to be a $500 signing bonus.
I left DeKalb this year after 18yrs of being a classroom teacher asking with many of my colleagues to accept an offer with a neighboring school district. I dint believe DeKalb REALLY wants to know went all their veteran educators leave for other districts…salary is just one. Let’s not talk about poor Administration, inexperienced leaders, no room to grow, doesn’t promote within and certainly doesn’t honor loyalty! That’s just to name a few.
Dear Mr. Jester
At the BOE Work Session held at 2:00 pm on Dec 5, 2016, a request was made to change 3 Director Jobs to Executive Director Jobs effective I think in January. The names of the people or the positions were not mentioned. Dr. Morley expressed concerns about this request.
Also, you expressed concerns about the number of county level administration jobs that were being created. I think there are 10 or 11 Coordinators jobs with salaries beginning at 64,000 dollars now on PATS. How will these jobs help the schools and more importantly the students?
One of the Coordinators jobs posted is for a Non Certified Coordinator, I think that job starts at 56,000. There is an executive Level Clerical Job that starts at 38,000, that is almost the salary made by a beginning teacher.
Since the school year started, we lost two of our staff members to another school district. Neither of these people could get promotions in DeKalb, but they were able to get promotions and pay raises in another school district.
The other reason that they left is because we have a nice, weak principal. No one seems to be monitoring what goes on in the school.
Has the school system forgotten that it never paid back the money that was taken from the TSA Accounts? In fairness this money needs to returned to all employees current and previous that had their money taken.
Mr. Jester I appreciate your blog. You allow people a venue to express their concerns and feelings.
If DeKalb does not find a way to support their teachers, we will continue to lose teachers. There needs to be training and monitoring for principals. Someone from the county office just running through a building and smiling and leaving, is not a good way to really know what does or does not go on in a school.
You will love this one. I had a teacher friend who was frozen at year 5 (she should had been on year 13 of the step), left for Gwinnett for one year. Gwinnett paid her for all 13 years she had been teaching. She comes back to DeKalb for what would be her 15th year of teaching and guess what, DeKalb bumps her up to year 15. That was a nice bump in pay.
How is that fair that she was able to do this and loyal teachers can not get their step?
I would think that Henry and Rockdale Counties should be in the comparison as well. They obviously border us to the south. For the northern part of the county we obviously look to those counties that are closest, but the southern counties are relevant as well.
Does summary data of the # of employees at each level exist? I would imagine that DeKalb is pretty good at hiring young teachers straight out of undergrad as they actually pay more at that level. And that no one is at Step 26, so that’s why we offer such good pay for that level.
Very good data, Stan, and much appreciated. I don’t understand this whole “step” business.
According to the Dec. HR report, there are 80 teaching vacancies. According to PATS, there are 124 and the year is half over. The starting salary was not enough to attract all the young teachers we needed. Some metro districts reported opening almost fully staffed so something drew teachers in their direction, not Dekalb’s. There are also over 40 para positions so some teachers don’t have the assistance they need. Salary is part of the draw. Working conditions is another (and creating mega-high schools on less than ideal campuses isn’t going to help, esp. when DCSD doesn’t have principals prepared to manage those sizes). Reputation is another. We have a way to go on all 3.
3% Raises – A 3% raise was given in the Fall of 2016 to all full time employees (school house and central office). This it was the 3rd raise for teachers in 12 months.
Retention Bonus – In addition to the 3% raise, existing teachers received a $500 retention bonus in October 2016.
Starting Salaries – DeKalb Schools appears to be making a conscious effort to attract starting teachers by paying above average the first few years.
January Teacher Salary Change – Last week the administration asked for approval to increase the FY2017 budget by $4.3 million to raise teacher salaries by 1.5%. The board asked the administration to do more than that. Dr. Michael Erwin asked for a 3% raise. In January the administration is going to come back with another number.
Executive Director Promotions – At the last board meeting Mrs. Turner requested to move three Executive Director promotions to next month. Dr. Green said he would bring this request back to the board at the January 9, 2017 meeting and the appropriate supporting documentation will be provided prior to the January 9, 2017 meeting.
Please remind us of the status of bonuses and/or pay raises for counselors, media specialists, and paraprofessionals.
3% from a frozen step not accurately reflecting the number of years they have been teaching. A $500 bonus to teachers who have been loyal to the county even though they have been treated so poorly? Do you really feel $500 was adequate when they have been shorted thousands of dollars in wages and retirement over the years.
Put the teachers on the step they should be on, then give them the 3% raise. You might see morale improve.
Stan, 3% was what the state gave the school districts with the expectation they would use it for salaries, right? DCSD didn’t use any of their money to give those 3% raises.
Dear Mr Jester,
Is there a policy on how people can be promoted? Can the superintendent just decide that he thinks that certain people in certain jobs should keep the jobs but “promote the position.’ I mean change your job title from a director to an executive director. For the people that have the job, that is great. But I could see this creating problems. If there are qualifications that someone must meet to get their job upgraded, shouldn’t that be open to everyone?
I always thought that people had to apply for a position.
Retention bonuses – counselors, media specialists, and paraprofessionals.
Dr. Michael Erwin asked about school-based staff (i.e. speech pathologists, academic coaches, etc.) that did not get the retention bonus. Dr. Stephen Green said it will be addressed in the Midyear Adjustment in January.
3% raise – Back in January 2016, the Governor announced the state was appropriating an additional “$300 million for k-12 education, which is more than is required to give teachers a three percent pay raise.”. The school district did not appropriate any additional funds for raises.
Stan, when you discuss this information with the board, please remind them that teachers have not received a step increase since 2007 (I believe). For the last several years, the county has given teachers apparent step increases (at least we move up a step on the scale), but they just move our current salary to the next step. Then they give us a raise, so it looks like we actually got a step increase, when we actually just received a cost of living raise. When I started teaching in 1992, all teachers reached the top of the scale after 25 years. At that point, they just received the cost of living increase every year. Now we have to teach 32 years to reach the top of the scale, even though we can retire after 30 years. It’s like someone keeps moving the finish line while we’re still running the race!
Is there a promotion policy for employees? If not, how are people recommended to have their position elevated., which would also include more pay. I am not trying to be difficult. Shouldn’t this be information be available to all employees.?
3 Executive Director Upgrades – 17 minutes into the Dec 7 Work Session Video, Dr. Morley starts the questioning regarding these promotions. 24:30 Vickty Turner asks her questions about the promotions.
Good Question Joy. I asked that exact question 29 minutes into the video.
Question from Stan Jester: Is there a promotion policy driving the promotions of employees from bus driver to executive director?
Leo Brown (Chief Human Capital Officer): The salary adjustments are not promotions. They will still hold the same job titles for the directors getting that adjustment.
Stan Jester: OK. Salary adjustments, do we have any kind of policy driving that?
Superintendent Gree: I wouldn’t say board policy, but administrative policy from the stand point of, in human capital management, trying to attract and retain, particularly at the school based level, except for our bus drivers, but they touch our children too, those closest to our children, we look at the affordability to be competitive in the market to retain and attract personnel.
Stan Jester – I would like to see a more defined trigger or process around this.
At 30:40 I get into teacher steps.
At 34:50 Dr. Erwin gets into school based employees that did not get bonuses in October.
Bless you. I clicked on the link you provided to the work sessions. At 17:03 Dr Green describes his request as “internal promotions.” Dr. Morley wanted to know how long they had been in their current positions. That was not answered. Other than saying that these 3 people were doing a ‘good job”, no concrete reasons were given. Dr. Green said things like ‘build capacity and observing the job that these people have performed, but that really does not provide a detailed explanation. Is this the measure that will be used for all promotions?
Mr. Jester, when other directors want an ‘internal promotion” what rationale will be given to these people for not getting it.?
These are the kinds of actions that create hard feelings. The three people may be great people. But unless the road to promotions is clear and one that everyone is at least able to travel, this could really create some problems.
Why does the DCSS need a Marketing Director at a salary of $ 120.000 dollars? What will this person do? How is this different from the other Director in the Communication Department? Was there no one in the school system that could qualify for this job?
How will this help the individuals who work in the schools?
How will this improve the life of our bus drivers, custodians or cafeteria workers?
Does anyone care how this looks to people in the schools?
How is this job going to improve the academic and social needs of the children in DeKalb?
I have posited the following guiding principles for salary and HR policies for DCSD for ten years. I do not understand why every leader talks about the “inverted pyramid” and “right-sizing” salaries, etc. and never seem to be ready to go directly at the inequities and out of whack priorities by using these principles:
1. No school administrator or non-teaching role reporting to a school building will earn more than the highest paid teacher in that school.
2. No regional leader, central office or program level leader, contractor, or superintendent will be paid more than the highest paid school principal in the district.
I believe that if these two guidelines were adopted the effects would include retaining more teaching talent in the classroom, retaining better leadership at the school front offices, and a redefinition of the “career path” in public education that today drives ambitious folks farther and farther away from education and puts the money and power in the hands of those that do not educate and add the least value to our schools.
This would by definition drive district operations more towards the “inverted pyramid” every administration in recent memory says it wants to create.
Let’s not forget the Appointment of Senior Level Personnel
Daniel Drake, Executive Director of Operations (Planning)
Stacey Stepney, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction (K-12 Core and Electives)
Knox Phillips, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction (Research, Assessment and Grants)
I expressed to Dr. Green that the budget has increased by 20% over the last 4 years and we have not seen an increase in academic achievement. Furthermore, I don’t see how the new positions or these promotions will improve academic achievement. I voted ‘No’ on both items. Dr. Morley abstained from the new positions agenda item. All other board members voted ‘Yes’ on both items.
I am trying to respect the rules of this blog and not deviate from the topic. I am not sure where to place this question.
This is now 2017. Has a person been hired for the Region I Superintendent? If not, why is this job still open?
I believe a job rec is still open for the Region I Superintendent position. Having an interim person in this position has probably enabled the administration to not aggressively seek a permanent replacement. Not to mention, qualified and experienced people willing to take this job are probably difficult to find in this job market.
I really think that a principle at a high school should make more than the top paid teacher. I think that might work at the elementary level, just because the pay for 30 year veteran is actually really good. I’d be interested to hear if there are school systems that actually have this rule.
DeKalb Principal Salary Schedules
A Principal’s earned annual income is generally much higher than teachers because principals are 12 month employees. If you annualize a teacher’s income, you’ll see the gap between principal and teacher pay close significantly.
Stan: “qualified and experienced people willing to take this job are probably difficult to find in this job market” would also be true for the recently created “executive director” positions yet Dr. green recommended and the BOE approved Drake and Stepney. That rationale unfortunately didn’t stop the district from naming them to those new permanent positions and from the comments of stakeholders in Region 1, it sounds like the interim is respected and doing a good job. What’s the hold up? If Dr. Green knows some reason why she shouldn’t be permanent, seems he shouldn’t keep her as interim for months on end.
@Joy: You don’t have to hire a Marketing Director when you have a brand that speaks for itself (ie, DCSD in the 70’s to the early 90’s). You hire a Marketing Director when your brand is in trouble and you want to put a fresh count of paint on a house that is falling apart to make it look pretty again without fixing what is really wrong.
Thank you Lynn. That is an explanation that makes sense. There are so many needs in our schools. Somehow we seem to be focusing on other things. In the last two BOE Business Meetings, it seems that more time was spent on raising the salaries of three chosen people and hiring a Marketing Director, then on real plans to support all of our schools. When Mr Jester questions how these promotions will benefit the students and schools, he never gets a straight answer. Dr Green just passes those questions on to someone else. When Dr. Morley questions the reason that we are losing so many people, she never gets a straight answer. Of course we are still spending more and more money. What has really changed? Yes there are plans to build schools and add-on to schools and re-district schools.
All of our students need safe and decent schools. But the quality of what goes on in a school, is much more important than the physical building.
While I am on a roll I want to keep it going. At the last “Screen on the Green”, at HMS several parents stood up and asked for a full-time interpreter at HMS. The interpreter is only there one day a week and heaven forbids they have a county a meeting or are even sick that day. Parents stated that it is hard because they want their student to be able to stay for tutoring but there is no transportation for their student to get home in the afternoon. Correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t Dr. Green’s response that it was a financial thing and he would have to look into it. Does everyone realize that three new promotions and the new “Marketing Director” would have given both HMS and LHS a full-time interpreter? Which is really more important? Seems to me someone’s priorities are not in the the right place.
While I’m taking a risk here of being shutdown by Moderator by stating data without sources my understanding is that the only policy DCSD has in this regard is that once a school has 200-300 parents who are ELL the school qualifies for a two-day-a-week interpreter. The Cross Keys Task Force has formally asked for a policy which states at what level a full-time interpreter should be assigned. DCSD says they are developing such a policy.
Well, I can tell you that DCSD is breaking its own policy at HMS. They have a 1 day a week interpreter for over 550 students. I am hoping that their school board rep will do something to make sure that they can at least get the extra day they deserve.
Again, I am asking how can the county find money for 3 promotions and a brand new position that will have absolutely no effect on the students in the schoolhouse instead of using that extra money for two interpreters that are desperately needed at two schools?
Lynn, you’ll be happy to know that this question is a standing agenda item for the Cross Keys Task Force and we will expect an update on the policy question within a month. Fernbank ES is facing the same challenge and that sparked the dialog. They are better about allocating “support specialist” but these roles are really for classroom support – not front office or parent engagement. They tend to get stretched too thin. It’s a global issue, really.
If there is still a step freeze on classroom teachers’ salaries, are teachers receiving any additional income year to year in order to compete with local Metro Atlanta school districts? If so, how much? On DCSD Website, the pay scale for teachers shows the steps. Is this not accurate information?
The teachers are currently getting raises instead of stepping to a new salary level. The administration is currently putting together the budget for FY2018. I’ll work to unfreeze teacher steps. The teacher pay scale on the website is accurate.
@Kim “Lynn, you’ll be happy to know that this question is a standing agenda item for the Cross Keys Task Force and we will expect an update on the policy question within a month. Fernbank ES is facing the same challenge and that sparked the dialog. They are better about allocating “support specialist” but these roles are really for classroom support – not front office or parent engagement. They tend to get stretched too thin. It’s a global issue, really.”
Kim – It has been a month and I was wondering if you have any update to the post copied above? I would greatly appreciate any news that you can share.
@Lynn: I don’t subscribe to updates so thanks for the tickler. Our February meeting did include this subject (interpreter staffing) and we were informed that the decisions for next year staffing are still pending. Part of the work is identifying various funding sources and they are waiting to hear back from State and Federal contacts on a funding option. My hope is we get a definitive answer in March or April. I’ll post back when we get informed.