DeKalb County Schools has nine vacancies in superintendent’s officeInterim Superintendent Dr. Vasanne Tinsley remarks during DeKalb County Board of Education’s Oath of Office Ceremony at the Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex in Stone Mountain on Friday Jan. 6, 2023. Photo by Dean Hesse.
DeKalb County, GA — DeKalb County Schools officials are crafting a budget for Fiscal Year 2024, which begins on July 1. They are doing so without key personnel in place, including a chief financial officer.
The school board is also looking for a new superintendent to replace Cheryl Watson-Harris, nearly a year after firing her and appointing Interim Superintendent Dr. Vasanne Tinsley. Some board members have expressed support for keeping Tinsley.
According to the district, there are nine vacancies in the superintendent’s office.
— Executive Director, Board Operations
— Chief Financial Officer
— Associate Superintendent, Office of Continuous Improvement
— Chief Human Resources Officer
— Associate Superintendent, Leadership and Schools
— Administrative Assistant
— Coordinator III, Intergovernmental Relations
— Deputy Chief Operating Officer
— Region 7 Regional Superintendent
The CFO would play a key role in crafting any budget. The former CFO, Masana Mailliard, worked for the district for 12 years before starting a new job with Gwinnett County Public Schools in January. The school district is also undertaking two in-depth audits.
At its Dec. 12 meeting, the school board awarded a $761,000 contract to Plante Moran, PLLC to audit how the district is spending special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) money. The DeKalb County School Board, during its Nov. 14 meeting, approved an $877,000 contract for an audit of how the district spent its COVID-19 relief money.
A spokesperson for the school district says it has everything covered, despite the number of vacancies.
“The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) remains committed to filling essential leadership roles with highly qualified administrators who can carry out the mission of the District,” spokesperson Donald Porter said. “DCSD — along with every other school system — is vying in a highly competitive job market for talent. There is a shortage of qualified candidates, and those with senior-level experience have multiple leadership opportunities from which to choose. DCSD continues to broaden its executive search process to locate the right individuals for these essential roles.
“In the meantime, each cabinet vacancy is competently filled with temporarily reassigned professionals carrying out the essential functions of DCSD. They will remain in these roles until permanent leaders are chosen. The Board of Education and superintendent appreciate these individuals for their support of DeKalb County Schools.”
School Board Chair Diijon DaCosta said Tinsley is “diligently working” to fill the central office vacancies.
When asked about the vacancies, DaCosta said they have been caused by “an abundance of things.”
“There has been a nationwide shortage in teachers and staff in the field of education, so it’s an abundance of things,” he said. “That’s why the superintendent is reviewing the issues that may have caused any of the vacancies.”
DaCosta said the district has received “numerous inquiries” for its vacancies, including the office of superintendent. The district has received two-dozen applications to replace Watson-Harris.
When Decaturish asked DaCosta if not having a CFO will be a concern as the district develops its budget, he said, “Not at all.”
“Before the CFO left, the superintendent started working on the budget in November and December to put things in place for the new fiscal year,” DaCosta said.
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