A recent central office audit found, when compared to similar systems, the DeKalb County School System has some positions paying “substantially” above market and called for a unified salary schedule for all employees.
The audit was the first part of a two-phase project to audit every position within the system; it is slated to be completed in March. It compared DCSS to systems such as Cobb, Gwinnett, Fulton and even the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) School System.
DeKalb County Schools spokesman Walter Woods said, although the audit specifically mentioned upper-level secretarial positions, he thinks many more salaries need to be adjusted. Woods cited problems with coding and the organizational structure as factors for the inflated salaries.
“I would say that it’s in multiple departments and we have multiple salary schedules rather than a unified salary schedule,” Woods said. However, he would not comment on specific pay rates that are believed to be out of line.
DCSS provided The Champion Newspaper with a summary of the more than 1,500 page report titled “Phase 1: Findings and Recommendations for Salary Range, Position Specifications and Organizational Restructure Study,” by the company hired to perform the audit, Management Advisory Group Inc.
In addition to the call for pay adjustments and a new salary schedule, the report cited “budget” coding as part of the problem. However, to address the coding issues MAG called for a complete restructuring of the departments within the central office.
“Hundreds of positions that were not housed in the central office, such as maintenance or transportation employees, were actually coded to central office. We’ve had to manually go through and properly code all employees to ensure when we talk about ‘central office’ we mean non-school based central office employees,” Woods said.
The report states that currently, there is “no clear core responsibility definition for various job families such as secretaries, specialists, coordinator, managers for directors, which makes classification of new positions problematic. In the absence of clear guidelines, jobs can be legitimately placed anywhere.”
Woods said the system is working on both the coding situation as well as realigning the central office departments.
“Aligning the departments is going to take more time and we’re going to have to go from position to position,” Woods said.
The report also shows the company’s suggestions for a new organizational structure. Suggestions include a new legal affairs officer, chief strategic planning and accountability officer and chief academic officer.
Woods said the system has not undergone an audit similar to the one performed by MAG in several years, an Ernst and Young study in 2005 being the closest thing. He said the system is looking closely at the report and its suggestions for central office realignment.
“We’re taking it under advisement—ultimately the final decision will be up to the superintendent. I can tell you the goal here is to drive resources to the classroom level,” Woods said.