As reported by Mark Niesse in the AJC today, the Board of Education voted 5-2 to pass the FY14 Budget on a tentative basis. The final Budget will be passed on June 27. The dissenting votes were by Meister and Kinnane.
As in past meetings, there continued to be extensive discussion on the average class size and the class size waiver. Per CFO Burbridge, based on the addition of approximately 40 teachers in the revised budget, when taking into consideration only the “core” teachers, the average class size across the system for FY14 is 24.7 versus 24.6 in FY13. As the average class size is consistent with the prior year, it was acknowledged that similar problems with overly large classes would likely arise at the beginning of the school year. However, Superintendent Davis indicated that the Administration would be very proactive in shifting resources much more quickly this year than in prior years.
Addition to original post: I find it interesting that throughout this entire budget process, the Administration has consistently said that the class sizes would be no worse than last year. However, at the request of the Budget Commission, 40 teachers were added in the last two weeks to bring the average class size into line with FY13. This is another case of where the Administration’s initial representations to the Budget Committee were not fully accurate and had to be revised when pushed by the Board.
Inherent in the budget is the presumption that the same “class size waivers” requested in the past will be requested again this year.
In addition, COB McDaniel requested that the Administration take a much harder look at the cost of the General and School Administration functions and attempt to find an additional $0.5 to $1.5 million in additional cuts in advance of the final passage of the budget at the end of June.
To a great extent, this budget is a disappointment and I congratulate Meister and Kinnane for taking a strong stand against it. As I noted before, this is a “status quo” budget – both in terms of dollars (as adjusted), class sizes and, most likely, educational outcomes.
Also, it was clear that certain Board members who displayed a significant amount of dissatisfaction with the Administration’s efforts to-date on both class sizes and cost cutting were somehow able to reconcile their dissatisfaction and voted to pass the budget.
For more detail on the Board discussions, please see the write up at Talk Up APS.