Deficit Spending At DeKalb Schools FY2018

The DeKalb Schools FY2018 Budget barely passed with 4 votes.
Voting Yes: Orson, McMahan, Johnson and Turner.  Jester voted No, Morley abstained and Erwin was absent. Despite a $276 million increase in revenue over the last few years, DeKalb Schools is expected to spend more than it takes in during the upcoming fiscal year.

Deficit Spending
According to the FY2018 BUDGET ENHANCEMENTS presented at the budget meeting, DeKalb Schools fund balance is expected to start at $128 million. The school district is expected to dip into reserves as it plans to overspend the revenue from this fiscal year by $12 million.  The budget anticipates leaving the fund balance total at $116 million.
General Fund
In FY2014, DeKalb Schools appropriated $750 million. 4 years later those appropriations have increased by 37% to $1.026 billion. Even though counties like Fulton spend almost 70% of their funds in the classroom, DeKalb Schools continues to fall short of the state mandated 65% rule for expenditures in the classroom.
Millage Rate
The board voted to slightly reduce the millage rate by .1%. At 23.28, this is still the 2nd highest millage rate in the state.  Keep in mind, property taxes for the school district are based on your current assessed value.  These taxes are not subject to the assessment freeze that affects the county’s tax digest.
Teacher Raises
All employees paid on the teacher salary schedule will receive a 2.25% raise starting Oct 1, 2017.  Teachers salaries in DeKalb are expected to continue to rank in the bottom 1/3 of the Metro Atlanta area.
Non Teachers Raises
Even though DeKalb Schools is top heavy, all other employees will receive a 2% raise.  Note:  The school district is expected to perform an employee/salary audit this fiscal year.
Other Points of Interest

  • A nurse in every school (134 locations) – $6,133,784
  • Addition of musical instruments and the repair of instruments- $655,000, with an additional $2 million from E-SPLOST V
  • Professional Development training for counselors, social workers, and psychologists and addition of 22 data entry clerks to assist counselors with caseloads – $3,011,591
  • $100,000 – Convocation
  • $50,000 – “I Love DeKalb Schools” marketing initiative

   DeKalb School Board Budget Discussion and Vote
Part of the Transcript …
Stan Jester – Teachers will receive a 2.25% raise starting October 1? Will that be communicated to the teachers that it is October and not the beginning of the school year?
Michael Bell – We are working with the Communications Department on that.
Stephen Green – The rationale for waiting is around the unknowns of the tax digest and dealing with the fund balance. The raise would normally come in September, so we are adding that .25 to the 2% to make up for the delay.
Jester – Raises beging October 1, but the teachers won’t see it until October 15.
Green – Yes.
Jester – This 2% raise for everyone else is a relatively new concept. It’s been batted around and we discussed it some last week. How did we come to that 2% figure?
Bell – We analyzed the cost and how it would affect the budget and fund balance.
Jester – So we are giving the other employees as much as we can afford?
Green – Yes. And cost of living
Jester – We have all kinds of studies about teacher salaries. How do we know all non teachers aren’t already way over paid?
Green – We are approaching a study on non teaching staff. We haven’t had one in 5 years and have probably drifted since then … some places lower and some places higher. We’ll recallibrate with this new study.
Jester – The study we did 5 years ago said that we had way too many employees and they were all over paid. SACS came in later and said the same thing. I don’t understand why we are doing this. I’m not saying some people aren’t paid enough. We don’t know. 2% raise is big hit.
Bell – Keep in mind, 5 years ago we were still feeling the affects of the recession. The new study will net all of that out.
Jester – Shouldn’t we wait until that study?
Bell – I think that would be waiting too long?
Jester – Why? Are we concerned people are going to leave?
Bell – It won’t help with retention if we don’t do this.
Jester – If we have too many people and they are over paid, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Jester – Fulton just passed a budget. Their millage rate is 18 mills. The percent of money they are pushing into the classroom is pushing 70%. We have the 2nd highest millage rate in the state and people want that money going into the classroom …

17 responses to “Deficit Spending At DeKalb Schools FY2018

  1. In the words of Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

  2. I agree with raises to the staff in the schools, but not to Central offices they already make six figures, some of the staff in the school are on food stamps and work second jobs to make ends meet. It’s not fair the further you are from the students the more money you make. I work in the school,(District 4/5) not as teachers, but have a lot of interaction with them the biggest complaint is the bad behavior and disrespect the students have no consequences, the just get sent back to class to cause more trouble in the classroom. The discipline policy too many steps to get them move to alternative school, makes them say just let me make it to the end of the year and I going to another district, at least I get paid more for headache.

  3. Retired DeKalb teacher fed up with wasteful spending.

    This is why I have no respect for the DeKalb superintendent and his crooked cronies. Throw money away, forget the students and teachers. How much longer do we have to endure this joke at the helm? The system will be in worst shape than when he moved in with all his friends he brought adding to the already top heavy central office?
    When will people in the county realize we must do a through nation search for a qualified leader and allow the citizens to have input in the selection amongst a number of candidates not one friend of a friend. Mr. Jester try as he does cannot do it alone! Thanks though Stan!

  4. Isn’t using money from the reserve part of how the system got put on probation with accreditation? Too many salaries at the central office. Pay teachers to retain them and put money in the classroom. A teacher has to leave DCSS to get the correct pay for experience. If they are rehired in DeKalb, they get put on the correct years of experience. Encouraging teachers to leave to get raises isn’t the answer. The system cannot sustain itself by spending more than it takes in. Irresponsible!

  5. Thank goodness we have Brookhaven Innovation Academy as an alternative to the corruption.

  6. I do not trust DeKalb with my kids or my $ any longer. This is why we will be selling and moving to East Cobb.

  7. Dear Stan,
    I am appalled that ALL non-teaching DCSD employees were given a 2% raise, and equally appalled by the way that the raises were given.
    — Raises were given to ALL DCSD employees, even the Central Office employees who make nearly $175,000 – plus benefits!!
    In my experience, financial rewards for the most highly paid employees are based on performance, and may also be in the form of a bonus rather than a pay raise.
    — Why were these across-the-board raises given right before DCSD performs an employee/salary audit this fiscal year? Why would you do this? Why not wait and see what the audit shows?
    Perhaps it’s because the District knows that the audit will show how top heavy it is, and wanted to get this increase in before the trough is closed.
    — Why did the public get little if any notice of this change? The DCSD website posted a document called “Proposed FY18 Budget Enhancements (distributed 6.27.2017)” This is the SAME DAY as the BOE vote!
    I read all of the previously posted FY18 Budget info and there was no mention of across-the-board raises for all non-teaching DCSD employees until this 11th hour document. There was no meaningful opportunity for the public to voice their opinion on the raises.
    Was this the plan all along? Did the District plan to keep this a secret until it was basically too late for the public to find out and express their opposition?

  8. Stan Jester

    I’ve edited the post to included a link to the video and transcribed part of my discussion with the administration on this. Hopefully it will provide some insight. Here is an excerpt:
    Jester – We have all kinds of studies about teacher salaries. How do we know all non teachers aren’t already way over paid?
    Green – We are approaching a study on non teaching staff. We haven’t had one in 5 years and have probably drifted since then … some places lower and some places higher. We’ll recalibrate with this new study.
    Jester – The study we did 5 years ago said that we had way too many employees and they were all over paid. SACS came in later and said the same thing. I don’t understand why we are doing this.

  9. Retired DeKalb teacher fed up with wasteful spending.

    This is how they operate! Sneak it in on a Friday late, no opportunity for taxpayers to have a say in the decision! There should be a freeze on ALL raises in the county until the teachers’ pay is at least as high as other counties in the area. If they truly want qualified teacher they will seek out Master candidates but oh no, they will hire Graduates with A.A. Or B.S. And the need to pay Master’s level is avoided. I know of a couple applied, new grad Masters and no response from H R. Wouldn’t you think they would at least thank them for applying, maybe say we will keep THEIR Application on file! Isn’t there a demand for teaching positions??
    Oh, but wait, perhaps a “sister” will apply!!

  10. Stan Jester

    Teacher applicants shouldn’t have to, but need to follow up with an email to the principal and HCM department if they believe their application is in limbo somewhere. It’s all hands on deck and the school district should be doing everything possible to attract (and retain) good teachers.

  11. Stan,
    You asked good questions about salary at the BOE meeting but no one from Human Capital Management was there to respond. Dr. Bell from Finance and Superintendent Green were the only ones to respond.
    Where the heck was HCM?
    Did the BOE have any background info to justify the raises? Why divert $$ from teachers and the classroom just because Dr. Green asked for it? Shouldn’t there be some rationale for this? I feel sure that this raise wasn’t due to public input, like the other “11th hour” changes were.
    This is beyond sad.

  12. . Thank you for your efforts to keep us informed. I mentioned this before. Months ago some decision should have been made about the head of HR. This is now the most critical time of the year. I noticed all of the Principal and AP jobs still listed. So a new principal is going to have to train a new AP . What a great way to start the school year.
    Mr. Jester
    Does anything happen to the principal evaluations that are done by the staff?

  13. Rebecca Burnett

    Come on Dekalb. Get it together. ON the rally thing…just plain stupid and waste of precious time that needs to be spent preparing for students.

  14. Retired DeKalb teacher fed up with wasteful spending.

    She never heard anything from HR after completing application. No principal was involved. She is white, Masters degree and they won’t hire her or even interview, that would be more money from DeKalb’s well. She had mother and grandmother with over twenty years teaching in the county. Oh, that’s why…we are white. Don’t tell me there isn’t racism in the hiring, know damn well there is. Look at the ratio of white to black teachers at ANY SCHOOL IN THE COUNTY!
    Their loss, she was snapped up by Gwinnett, second-grade teacher at an awesome school. DeKalb loses because that is how they run the HR.

  15. Stan Jester

    Please send me a more detailed account of the experience trying to get a teaching job at Dekalb schools …

  16. Retired DeKalb teacher fed up with wasteful spending.

    Stan, thanks but no thanks! She is my granddaughter and it happened. First part of teacher exam she had almost perfect score. Instructors at Mercer kept class projects to share with future students involved in Masters program. She is so creative with art, her creative writing is unreal. I told her to try writing children books.
    She is where she was meant to be I believe. Title I, probably Spanish and the parents and students will love her. As I said DeKalb loss.
    Stan about the ratio it is true. Just look at the breakdown at schools and of course application ask. They know what they are doing. Thank you anyway. It just makes me so angry. The county will NEVER improve as long as this stays in practice. I am not a racist, there are many wonderful black teachers in the system .

  17. Stan Jester

    I will absolutely keep everything confidential.