The DeKalb County School District Board of Education voted to authorize the salary supplement program, signed by Governor Brian Kemp in March, for the district’s employees.

On the recommendation of the district’s Chief Financial Officer, Charles Burbridge, the board took two actions to move forward with the salary supplements.

The board updated the current FY 2022 budget’s revenue projections to include the salary supplement and amended the budget’s expenditures to include the payments.

“We are making the budget adjustments necessary to extend these supplements to all employees, and not just the classifications that are identified in the House Bill,” Burbridge said to the school board.

Burbridge told the board that the payments will be made in a lump sum; $2000 for full-time employees and $1000 for part-time. He added that the district aims to have all of the checks ready to be processed and distributed by the end of April.

In addition to all 6,564 teachers in DeKalb schools, cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals,social workers, custodians, bus drivers and dozens of other district employees are eligible for the supplement payment. 

DeKalb County will pay just under $20 million in supplement payments. The money will come from coronavirus relief money provided to the district by the state and federal governments.

According to Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris, DeKalb Schools have benefited from over $80 million in funding from both CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.

Chairperson of the school board Vickie B. Turner also addressed the rumors that had been making their way around the district that the people responsible for distributing the supplements had awarded themselves $10,000 bonuses. More specifically that district employees with greater seniority received larger supplements payments while others got none.

Turner said that out of an abundance of caution the board would be looking over the details of the supplement payments to be made.

Superintendent Watson-Harris said the district would welcome an opportunity to present the school board and community stakeholders with a detailed account of how the past supplement payments were made. She also invited stakeholders to the website of the district’s human resources department, where the ‘Perks & Benefits’ page explains all of the incentives available to current employees.

Watson-Harris stated to the room that there was no ill intention or need for concern but she looks forward to exploring new systems that can be implemented to increase efficiency and excellence.

Similarly board member Joyce Morely called for there to be a full investigation into the allocation and distribution of previous supplement payments made by the district.

“I think it’s important for employees to know that everybody in the district is important, everybody plays an important role,” Morley said. “If we say we value children we must value the people that work with the children.”

By the end of the discussion the motions that would provide the salary supplements were added to the consent agenda which passed unanimously. Any further investigation into the previous payments made was tabled for future meetings.

This article is one of a series of articles produced by The Atlanta Voice  through support provided by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Word In  Black, a collaborative of 10 Black-owned media outlets across the  country.

Madeline Thigpen is an education reporter and Report for America Corps Member. She joined the Atlanta Voice in 2021. At the Voice she covers K-12 education for the Atlanta metro region and higher education....