The Atlanta Public School Board of Education passed the FY15 preliminary budget yesterday with no changes from the budget proposed by the superintendent last week. The budget includes a $15 million or 3% raise for all school district employees and additional increases in spending amounting to $48 million over the FY14 expenditures. For more detail on the FY15 budget see here and an AJC article here.
I was unable to attend the Board meeting yesterday, but it is my understanding that the Board requested that the superintendent provide alternative scenarios that would reduce expenditures further and reduce or eliminate the currently proposed $25 million use of General Fund reserves. In addition, the administration indicated that there will be a reallocation of expenditures towards serving “at risk” children. It is anticipated that the revised budget numbers will be released next Monday.
The preliminary budget will be presented at the following community meetings for public input:
- South Region – Thursday, March 20, 2014, 6-7 PM – Perkerson Elementary School – 2040 Brewer Blvd., SW, Atlanta, GA 30310
- North Region – Thursday, March 27, 2014, 6-7 PM – Woodson Primary School – 1605 Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy., NW, Atlanta, GA 30318
- East Region – Tuesday, April 1, 2014, 6-7 PM – Burgess-Peterson Academy -480 Clifton St., SE, Atlanta, GA 30316
- West Region – Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 6-7 PM – Cascade Elementary School – 2326 Venetian Dr., SW, Atlanta, GA 30311
At these meetings, in the past APS CFO Chuck Burbridge presents the budget and then takes questions from those attending. If you have concerns, comments or questions, these meetings provide a venue to express your opinions.
At a high level, the following are items that I would express to the administration and the Board as concerns with the current budget:
- Given the $38 million in increased revenues, why isn’t the budget balanced without the use of reserves? [Note – Board members are asking for alternative scenarios that would close the gap – support their efforts.]
- The cost of administrative functions is significantly higher than neighboring school districts and the cost of these functions continues to rise while enrollment in the traditional schools has declined by nearly 5% over the last three years. While I support the raises for teachers and other front-line personnel, why are administrators being given raises when it does not appear as if they are willing to control their costs and bring them in line with changes in enrollment?
- Board members ran on increasing the focus on early education. How much of the increased spending is being directed to elementary schools? Excluding the change due to furlough days, is the “per student spending” for elementary school direct resources increasing?
- The FY15 budget for traditional schools allocates 58.0% of spending to direct instruction as compared to 59.1% during the current year (excluding potential teacher salary increases). The Board ran on the idea that expenditures would be reallocated and directed towards direct instruction. The budget indicates the allocations are going in the wrong direction. Why is this the case?
- Why is the cost of administrative functions continuing to increase? Over two years, the percentage of the budget allocated to these functions has increased from 11.5% of the budget to 13.9% (see chart below). This is in opposition to school enrollment trends and contrary to what Board members discussed during last year’s election. When will the budgetary focus be placed on direct instruction and away from administrative functions?
It is important that everyone pose questions to the administration directly and to the Board members as well. The pressure that parents exerted last year in the “class size waiver” debate resulted in a significant addition of teachers.
Your voice counts if you decide to use it.
Let them know your thoughts and concerns. It matters and it will have an impact.
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