Thurmond Addresses DeKalb County Stakeholders | WABE 90.1 FM

Thurmond Addresses DeKalb County Stakeholders

Mar 27, 2013

 It’s been two weeks since Governor Deal replaced six DeKalb County school board members. One big challenge the board will face is balancing the district’s budget. Today, interim superintendent Michael Thurmond spoke to DeKalb community members and business leaders about the district’s outlook. 

Recently, DeKalb schools CFO Michael Perrone estimated the district could run a $24 million deficit in the next fiscal year. Thurmond told stakeholders, Perrone suggested some steep cost-cutting measures.

“He recommended and I agree to implement a hiring freeze across the district, but with a caveat," Thurmond said, "The hiring freeze will not impact teachers or classroom instruction.”

But, teachers won’t get a pay increase. Druid Hills High School senior Kadeem Trimble asked Thurmond how the district will attract good teachers without increasing salaries.

“Survey after survey of employees tells you that the primary reason for dissatisfaction with a supervisor is not necessarily pay," Thurmond said, "It’s not feeling appreciated.”

As an answer, Thurmond says he plans to lighten teachers' workloads. However, Trimble, the high school senior, told WABE’s Denis O’Hayer lower salaries could affect teacher recruitment.

“Since you’re cutting funds from the teacher’s salary, if they’re able to attract new and educated and young teachers," Trimble said, "So, I’m not sure about that, but I’m pretty sure the board and the superintendent are working hard to fix that big issue.”

One solution is raising property taxes. But Thurmond told reporters he won’t do that.

Thurmond: No.”

Reporters: [inaudible]

Thurmond:No, no. Let me just answer that: No. No tax increase. First, we have to get our fiscal house in order. We’re going to have to restore public trust and demonstrate to all of our stakeholders that we’re serious about improving academic performance in the classroom.”

The most immediate deadline the district faces is an update with its accrediting agency in May. The district was placed on accredited probation in December due to poor board governance, which included allegations of financial mismanagement. 

DeKalb School Board interim superintendent Michael Thurmond (center) talks with Kadeem Trimble (left) and his parents.
Credit Denis O'Hayer/WABE