DeKalb County Schools officials said they are going to use this year’s current budget as a template for fiscal year 2012 and plan on restoring several things that were cut out of the fiscal year 2011 budget.
“It’s a progressive budget not a regressive budget,” DeKalb County Schools Chief Financial Officer Marcus Turk said.
Turk also said that the budget for this year was very conservative because the school system was anticipating cuts from the state.
“During the 2010-11 fiscal year DeKalb County Schools planned [for] and anticipated mid-year cuts in state funding which were not required. Additionally, DeKalb County Schools budgeted for a sharper decline in the local property digest than the actual decline,” Turk said.
This year the school system also took significant steps to bridge a $104 million gap in the budget by making significant reductions including: cutting 150 central office employees, which saved $11.5 million; eliminating non-essential central office positions, which saved $6.6 million; adding furlough days and employee pay reductions, which saved $27.4 million and making staff reductions and increasing class size by two students, which saved $15.8 million.
The system also continued the suspension of the Board of Education-sponsored retirement funding, which has been suspended since October 2010 and saves an estimated $26 million each year and the recent redistricting vote by the school board will save an additional $12 million annually.
School board member and chairman of the budget, finance and facilities committee Eugene Walker said that the budget for 2012 is on the right track and he’s grateful the cuts they anticipated this year didn’t come to pass. He also hopes that nothing happens economically to change Gov. Nathan Deal’s mind and cause him to lessen state funding for schools in 2012.
“So far we’ve had nothing but good news from [Gov. Deal] in that he’s going to let the budget for schools stay as they are. If we stay the course then we can hopefully balance the budget,” Walker said.
Although the 2012 budget is still in preliminary stages, Turk said if everything goes as planned then all 10- and 11-month employees will have all of their furlough days reinstated and 12-month employees will have 11 of their 15 days reinstated.
“The four days that will not be restored [for 12 month employees] will take place during the winter break in December. This means that the school district will be closed the full two weeks of winter break…closing during the break reduces the costs to operate the buildings and, as a result, helps the operating budget,” Turk said.
DeKalb County Schools budget and finance staff will begin the annual operating budget development process in July.
Significant reductions include:
- $27.4 million Furlough days and employee pay reductions
- $26 million Board of Education-sponsored retirement funding
- $15.8 million Staff reduction and increasing class size by two
- $11.5 million Eliminating 150 central office employees
- $6.6 million Eliminating non-essential central office positions
- $2 million Implement full transportation efficiency plan