Monday, May 21, 2012

Update on the DeKalb County School System budget from Board Member Nancy Jester

Budget Update  
Last Wednesday, the Superintendent and CFO presented a summary of their proposed FY2013 budget to the Budget Committee.  Here are links to the documents that were presented: 

Budget Cover Letter
Budget Detail
Budget Summary

There will be two public budget hearings:
Tuesday, May 22nd at 6pm 
Wednesday, May 30th at 6pm

Administrative and Instructional Complex
1701 Stone Mountain Blvd.
Stone Mountain, GA 30083      

Please note that this proposal was drafted by staff for the Board and is a starting point for our budget discussions. For the past year, I have publicly inquired about, and expressed my frustration with, many line items that were significantly over budget.  Their consistent variances from the budget suggested that these items were not properly budgeted for years.  Still other discretionary items were also over-budget because of a lack of fiscal restraint.  These factors, along with a $15 million increase in benefit costs from the state, and falling property tax revenue have resulted in DCSD starting the budgeting process assuming a $73.8 million budget deficit.
The new Superintendent and CFO have also recognized the budget problems that I have pointed out consistently since before they arrived in DeKalb.  Their new budget has approached the fixed costs realistically.  The Superintendent has reorganized the central office and eliminated many positions there.  (I await her final tally regarding the number of positions.  When I have these numbers, I will share them with you.)  In my opinion we need to make even further cuts to the central office.  We will need to take a hard look at all of our services and programs.  We also need to usher in a culture of fiscal restraint.  I have shared my thoughts about this publicly at meetings and privately with the new leadership team.  While it is true that DeKalb's millage rate has not been raised in 8 years, it is also the highest in the metro area.  ( Click here for a listing of millage rates from around the state.) Sadly the opportunity to build greater reserves when the property tax base was expanding was not taken.

On Thursday, May 17th, the Superintendent and COO provided an overview of their planning for the upcoming SPLOST IV program.  Below are links to the documents that were presented to the Board.

SPLOST IV OverviewPresentation
SPLOST IV Schedule       

New tab on my website
I've added a new tab on my website called "What's Up With That?".  It's an interactive blog where I'll put up common questions that I receive along with my answers.  You can also leave your comments.  If you have something that you think might be a good topic for the blog, please drop me a line at:  

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