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DeKalb school board finds $9 million in additional funds
by Bridgette Bonner
bonner@neighbornewspapers.com
May 09, 2013 10:13 AM | 3716 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In one week’s time, financial experts for the DeKalb County School District shifted from presenting a budget with a $14.6 million challenge to one with a $9 million anticipated surplus for 2014.

Interim Chief Financial Officer Michael Bell told the DeKalb County School Board and guests Wednesday that unforeseen reimbursements from a Title IIA grant, the school nutrition program, the after school program and Title I funds, paired with projected revenue from property and vehicle taxes, account for the additional dollars.

A few of the grants were not included in initial budgets presented a week prior, Bell said, when Chief Financial Officer Michael Perrone told the same group that revenue was flat.

Bell emphasized the figures were nothing more than an estimate, and Interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond was careful with the word “surplus.”

“Until or unless we restore the fund balance, we will not be in a surplus,” Thurmond said. “We will continue to be in a position to have to save.”

Thurmond said the proposed budget is not final and is subject to review, as the board will make sure academic achievement is the top priority.

“This proposal isn’t magic, but we’ll continue to try to do the best we can,” he said.

With the news of unexpected revenue came a cry for raises. More than half of those who took to the podium Wednesday night were teachers from within the district telling the board and Thurmond about hardships on their current salaries.

Teacher Lisa Morgan said there are more than 1,000 teachers with the district who make the state-mandated salary.

“That means more than 1,000 people can leave DeKalb County and make more money, and who will replace those teachers?” she said.

Lisa Carlisle, a paraprofessional in special education, asked the board to consider giving principals more power to advocate for the needs of their staff.

“I don’t believe in raises for everyone,” she said. “I believe in merit raises, and principals know who is being effective and who’s going above and beyond. Those people aren’t being recognized and will eventually burn out.”

The board members withheld from addressing public comments in order to give themselves proper time to consider those comments, Thurmond said.

What’s next?
The DeKalb County School District will tentatively meet May 15 at 6 p.m. at the central office, 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Stone Mountain, for the final public input session regarding the budget.

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