Hey Nancy,

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Archive for May, 2012

Fiscal Year 2013 Budget

Hey Nancy,

In reading the article in today’s AJC regarding [the 5/22 budget] meeting, it seems that the county is trying to fill a $70m budget gap due to increased healthcare and retirement benefits.  I understand that healthcare costs are rising, however, retirement benefits should be slashed.  Nobody in the private sector receives retirement benefits.  So, if retirement is a rising cost, it should be mitigated in that any incoming new teacher will not receive retirement benefits just as anyone in the private sector.

Many PTAs in the area are helping to fund their schools.  They provide cleaning supplies, stipends for teachers to purchase supplies, provide substitute teachers, and purchase playground equipment for the schools.  The PTAs should not have to provide basic supplies to the schools in order for them to function properly, the county should provide those items.  This demonstrates how inefficiently the county is running the schools.

Montessori is once again on the agenda for removing from schools as well.  I think this is a HUGE mistake.  The Montessori class room equipment is already purchased and the classes use fewer consumables, like paper, pencils, etc., than traditional classrooms.  Montessori is a low cost option for parents and is part of the reason we moved into the school district.  Please fight to not remove the Montessori from the schools.

I saw that the county is considering removing Pre-K as an option to save money.  Doesn’t the lottery pay for Pre-k?  So, why cut pre-k?  That is crazy.

Also, I do not understand how the school board is complaining about money when they were able to cover a budget shortfall this year of over $40m by reallocating some funds.

What’s up with that?


  1. Teacher’s Retirement

    As a public school system we are required to participate in the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). You can find out more about this entity by going to their website. The TRS sets the rates that employees and the district must pay into the system. DeKalb does not have any control over these rates. You can view the contribution rates from 1980 here.


    I agree! The new administration is looking at how provisions are procured for schools.


    My understanding is that the proposal is to cut the extra teacher allotment for Montessori programs but not the offering of Montessori itself. The Board has received a list of cuts that include the elimination of extra teacher allotments not just for Montessori but all extra magnet teacher allotments as well. This is not eliminating the programs just the extra teachers that had been given to these programs that reduced class size relative to the class size at other schools in DeKalb. So, Montessori and Magnet programs can operate but will have the same class size situations as every other school. If your school is a Title I school, your principal can chose to use some of your Title I funding to reduce class size by adding staff. This year more Title I funding will be pushed to the schools. The estimate that I am hearing is $36 million will be made available to the Title I schools in the district. By comparison, last year only $18 million out of the $42 million the county received in Title I funding was pushed to the schools. So, if your school is Title I then these funds can be used to reduce class size.


    Unfortunately, Pre-K is not fully funded by the state lottery. The funding we receive from the state covers about one half of our costs. There are also implications that cause the district to lose some of our state QBE funding when we house Pre-K within an elementary school. Most other metro districts do not offer pre-k within their schools. There are private Pre-K options that coordinate with “Bright from the start”. Parents can find a private Pre-K provider that participates in the public Pre-K program and learn more about Georgia’s Pre-K programs by visiting the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning website.

    Previous Budget Shortfall

    I think you are referring to the SPLOST III projected shortfall issue. SPLOST money is not allowed to be used for the operational budget. SPLOST is solely used for capital improvements pursuant to the list of projects brought before the voters to approve. Recently the voters approved a SPLOST IV referendum. SPLOST III had a number of budgeting problems culminating in projecting a shortfall that would hit toward the end of this year without adjusting the projects. The decisions creating these problems for SPLOST III were made before I was on the board. Based on several factors some of the projects were able to be moved from the SPLOST III list to the SPLOST IV list; alleviating the projected shortfall for the overall building program. Again, this did not involve any money that could be used for school operations.

posted by Nancy Jester in DeKalb County School District and have Comments (32)

DeKalb Teacher Contracts

Hey Nancy,

Dekalb County School System (DCSS) sent out teacher contracts on Monday, April 30, 2012 to some of our teachers and administrators.  In the contract, the teachers were told they were being offered their current jobs with a pay decrease of 6.25 %.  I realize this probably does not sound too bad to some, however this is yet another devastating blow to our teachers and their morale.  The teachers are the ones who are on the front lines of education.  They are the ones who help inspire our children to be their best.  They are the ones who help mold children’s minds.  They are the ones who have been saddled with the responsibility of educating our future generations. Yet our leaders in DCSS continue to undermine their efforts by another salary cut.  (more … )

What’s up with that?

Susan via The Aha Connection

  1. The Superintendent has stated that she does not intend to ask the Board for a pay cut. Click here to view an AJC article about the error in the contract letter to teachers.

    Please also know that the Board has yet to receive a proposed budget from the Superintendent. I expect to get this near mid-May. The Superintendent has employed a modified zero-based budget (ZBB) approach to the 2012-13 SY budget (7/1/12-6/30/13). This approach is something I spoke about when I ran for the Board so I am pleased that we are now using this methodology. Many components of a public entities’ budgets are simply carried forward without determining their continued relevance or effectiveness. For DCSD some programs have been carried forward even though the state, which might have first mandated them, has long since cut off funding. So, with ZBB and the hiring of a new CFO (4/30/12), the budget planning process has taken additional time.

    Once the budget receives approval from the full Board, it is my understanding that teachers will receive updated communications regarding their salary. Please know that this lag frustrates me too. I share your concerns. I will continue to monitor this issue, ask questions and keep you informed of what I learn. As a mom with three young children, who will all be in DeKalb schools next year (finally my youngest will be in Kindergarten!), I continue to be grateful to the teachers in this district. My two oldest (3rd and 1st grade) have been the beneficiaries of the tremendous dedication and effort that teachers provide everyday. My gratitude to the teachers is beyond measure.

    On a side note: The two largest components of our funding are property taxes and state education allotments. We have not received confirmation of the value of either of those revenues. The budget cycle for school districts and revenue determinations are not in sync. Given the economic realities, this dissonance makes the budgeting process very precarious. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could make the component variables align?!

posted by Nancy Jester in DeKalb County School District and have Comments (3)

Is DeKalb Dropping German

Hey Nancy,

Is DCSD seriously considering dropping German from the high schools?  Apparently no German (or Latin) teacher received a contract and is “on hold” until May 11th.  What about the kids who have already completed 2 years and need a third to meet their diploma requirements?

What’s up with that?


  1. “The DeKalb County School District is pleased to have a German Education
    program. The positive effect on intellectual growth which enriches and
    enhances a child’s mental development alone will open doors to other
    cultures and help children understand and appreciate cultural diversity.
    It is the DeKalb County School District’s intention to keep the German
    Education program. Through the zero based budgeting process, several
    categories of positions were considered as overstaffed. As we are
    balancing the budget with the staff necessary to serve students’ needs,
    several educators received a delay notification. Please note that this
    delay notification is not synonymous with a non-renewal notification.
    This is simply a request for additional time to balance allotments based
    upon student needs. It is our intent to forward a contract to all
    teachers who are within the District allotment of positions on or before
    May 15, 2012.

    Thank you.”

    Cheryl L. H. Atkinson, Ed.D.

posted by Nancy Jester in DeKalb County School District and have No Comments