The budget, which is for the 2013-14 academic year, had to be passed by Sunday, when the current fiscal year ends. It was approved by a 6-3 vote, with board members LaChandra Butler Burks (District 5), Cecily Harsch-Kinnane (District 3) and Nancy Meister (District 4) dissenting.
The budget calls for class sizes to be limited to 24 students for elementary schools and 30 for middle and high schools. Originally proposed at $592 million, it was increased to hire more teachers to meet the class size request.
“We added 40 additional teachers to reflect a class size as requested by the board,” Superintendent Erroll Davis said at the meeting, according to the blog.
He also explained to the board more about the budget.
“The budget reflects the removal of $8 million … from the Beltline and the addition of $6 million from the tax digest, which offsets the $8 million,” Davis said. “The appropriations are currently $593.8 million. This difference of $592 million and $593.8 million is $1.8 million. It is explained by us taking $750,000 in personnel reductions that was offset by $750,000 in charter school payments. There is about $1.3 million of additional miscellaneous cuts which I will explain in closed session if so desired.”
In an email, Darby district spokeswoman Sharise Darby said, “According to Chief Financial Officer Chuck Burbridge, the superintendent reported that the actual fund balance starting in fiscal 2014 would be $1.5 million higher than expected. This allowed the board to approve the budget without drawing the balance below the $41 million minimum targeted by the board.”
Meister, who represents Buckhead, was concerned with the district’s waiver regarding a budget payment from the Atlanta BeltLine project and its effect on the budget.
“I still have reservations and I’m not comfortable with a piece of paper when we approve something as important as this,” she said. “I am not comfortable with the +5 waiver. I am also not comfortable with the uncertainty around the Beltline or the property sales. I wish we could have gotten further, but I’m uncomfortable at this point.”
Following the budget vote, Harsch-Kinnane asked if class size waiver resolutions could be added to the day’s agenda, but the motion failed.
The budget did not include the sale of the old North Fulton High property in Buckhead to Atlanta International School, which has occupied that campus since 1995, Darby said. Atlanta International had offered to purchase the property for $6.15 million and also buy $2.25 million in International Baccalaureate services from the district.
Special revenue and construction budgets will be addressed at the school board meeting Monday at 2 p.m.
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