Local organization questions DeKalb County School District office expenses, others
A metro Atlanta teachers’ organization is questioning the role and pay of central office staff at DeKalb County School District (DCSD).
Emails obtained by The Champion detail open records requests made by the Georgia Federation of Teachers, a chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, which has represented the interests of education professionals since its founding in 1916.
The requests—made June 12 and June 21 by Georgia Federation of Teachers president Verdailla Turner—ask DCSD to provide the salaries of all DCSD directors and superiors for the past three school years.
The requests also ask for Superintendent R. Stephen Green’s “total costs to the school district,” including salary, benefits, travel expenses and perks.
The second open records request includes the first request as well as questions asking how many administrative positions have been added since Green was hired; how many administrative positions have been abolished since Green was hired; a comparison of Green’s administration size to the staff of former superintendent Michael Thurmond; as well as the number of students attending DCSD in each administration.
The second open records request also asks for the percentage of salary increases for classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, administrative assistants, bus drivers, janitorial staff and cafeteria cooks during Green’s capacity as superintendent since being hired in 2015.
Turner said DCSD charged approximately $250 for the first request and nearly $1,000 for the second request.
Turner said the requests were made becausemembers of the DeKalb County community—including DeKalb County teachers—have asked the same questions with little to no response from the district.
“A journalist flat out told us they cannot get answers,” Turner said. “A school board member said they, too, cannot get answers.”
According to Turner, Green’s central office has a problem with transparency. She said many members of the public cannot read DCSD’s $1.74 billion budget—nearly double from last year—or decipher a budget’s intent and that she hoped to enlighten residents of DeKalb County and empower them for action by disseminating information.
Turner said she has been approached by DCSD central office staff, principals, teachers and other employees at the district who often complain of Green’s “top-heavy” approach to governing the district as well as past districts he previously managed.
“We have a large local chapter in Kansas City, [Green’s former district],” Turner said. “We’ve been told that [Green] will delegate a lot, spend a lot of money, hire a lot of administrators and be dogmatic when going about doing so.”
Turner questioned DCSD board of education chairman Melvin Johnson for hiring Green without a complete public process. She said she would have preferred to have seen a list of candidates for consideration and public input.
Turner said Green’s spending and increasing the central office staff by 300 percent has come at the expense of other employees, namely cafeteria, bus, mechanical and technical staff.
“These are essential for a school workplace,” Turner said. “They have a lot of value and should be treated with dignity and paid above the poverty level.”
According to Turner, almost 1,000 DeKalb County educators are part of the Georgia Federation of Teachers.
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