LIVE BLOG: Special Legislative Meeting – Board of Education – March 18, 2014

Thank you for following our live blog of the March Board of Education Meeting for Atlanta Public Schools.

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The meeting will begin soon.

4:51 pm Meeting called to order

Chair C. English asks for a report from Budget Commission chair Matt Westmoreland.

Westmoreland: We have unanimously approved for tentative adoption the FY15 budget.  The superintendent has spoken many times about timing and how passing a budget during this time of year will help us with hiring during the season when educators are looking to work with our system.  [Westmoreland explains that you will see increases in areas such as special education, art, band, music and other areas the board viewed as important during the process].  Final budget will be adopted, after community meetings have concluded, during the April meeting.

English:  We are light years ahead of where we were last year.  I know we are not where we want to be, there were outstanding requests, but with all of that being said I will now entertain a motion to approve item 2.01.

Board votes unanimously to approve 2.01.

Discussion on item 2.02 (budget)

Collins asks if now is the time to ask specific questions about the budget.

English:  A new book is coming on Monday that may eliminate the need to ask questions, but you can always feel free to ask questions in this forum or outside of this meeting.  To the extent you can prepare the administration to what the questions will be, they will be better able to get back to you.

Collins asks for clarity around a new hire in C&I and an increase in Operations.

Chuck Burbridge:  There are a couple of items contributing to Operations.  We are seeing a $3M increase.  A portion of the increase is the elimination of furlough days for Operations employees.  Another item is that we have not had a discussion of the vacancy adjustment. We put in adjustments for vacancies and that represents about $2M.  The $3M you are seeing is not programmatic, but is us adjusting for vacancies and eliminating furloughs.

Davis:  The other driver will be the way benefits are being calculated.  Last year we used percentages to calculate, this year we were given from the state a 2 part package – one is fixed ($10,000), then variable.  When you get to the lower paid workers the costs there balloon.

Burbridge explains that although we don’t get much of the budgeted benefits money, we have to record it into the budget.  The money is actually paid directly from the state to the benefit provider.

Collins:  That was not the basis of my question.  For safety I’m looking at an increase, for instance, in safety.  What is that actual investment? As we look at safety and security concerns we want to make sure these dollars are maximized.

Larry Hoskins:  There are actually 2 programs for safety and security.  You will see one called safety, one called security and if you add them up we are on target from last year.

Karen Waldon:  [Question was asked earlier by Collins about an associate superintendent position] There is no new associate superintendent position.

Finance representative explains that 2 versions of the budget were sent in close proximity to one another.

Board passes the tentative budget unanimously.

Board will enter into executive session and report out after the session ends.

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