UPDATED – I have added some additional information that is included in Mark Niesse’s AJC article today (behind pay-wall).
The Board of Education today adopted the FY14 Budget with $568.5 million in revenue, $595.1 million in expenditures and with a deficit of $26.6 million. The budget resolution passed with six in favor and three against. Here are the highlights of the discussions:
- The Board went into Executive Session to review the additional $1.3 million in additional cuts requested by the Budget Commission. There was no discussion of the cuts in open session and they were not included in the final budget passed.
- Butler-Burks who is the Chair of the Budget Commission voted against the proposed budget. She did not speak to the reasons why in open session, but her comment this past week in the Budget Commission meeting indicating that the Budget Commission had never passed a budget resolution was prescient of her vote today. She did not appear to be happy.
- The two most vocal contributors to the Budget Commission meetings – Meister and Harsch-Kinnane – who participate in those meetings, but are not formal members of the Budget Commission voted against the proposed budget. They each voiced concerns regarding the average class size issue.
- Superintendent Davis laid a rather significant new fact on the table – the ending General Fund balance will be higher than originally projected by
at least $1.3$1.5 million if not more. He did not give a specific number.As tomorrow is the effective end of the FY13 year, it seems strange that he had this information today and not during the Budget Commission meeting this past Tuesday.
- Superintendent Davis indicated that due to the higher ending General Fund balance, the risk of the General Fund reserve going below $41 million in FY14 was minimal and therefore the additional $1.3 million in cuts did not have to be made.
- The risk to the General Fund reserve from the continuing deficit spending – on average $22 million per year since June 30, 2009 – and the projected deficit of $26.6 million in FY14 – did not get discussed as a major “risk” factor going forward. [However, per the AJC, this was a major concern for those Board members voting against the budget.]
- Superintendent Davis indicated that the administration had showed its capability to manage expenditures as they had eliminated $16 million of cost during FY13. I am not sure how this statement holds up as the FY13 Amended Budget is at least $6 million higher than the FY13 Approved Budget.
All in all, the vote was a bit anticlimactic, but there are some victories that came out of the process. There are at least 64 additional teachers added since the start of the process. The administration knows that it has to be very proactive in dealing with overly large class sizes quickly when the school year begins and not wait until the end of October to make adjustments the way they did this past year.
In addition, the Board knows it is facing a fiscal cliff at the end of FY14 and the sooner they begin planning on how to deal with this the better. This will be a key question for any Board of Education candidate running in November.
So the war of the budget is over. Time to start the next battle on getting it amended!