Atlanta Public Schools Seeks Public Feedback on Proposed Spending Plan for 2017-2018 School Year

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The Budget Commission of the Atlanta Board of Education met on Thursday afternoon to review the tentative budget proposal for the 2017-2018 school year. Four community meetings will be held, starting April 27, to garner feedback from the public on the spending plan.

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) will host a series of community meetings to receive feedback from parents and tax payers on its proposed General Fund Budget for the 2017-2018 school year (Fiscal Year 2018).

The meeting schedule is as follows:

School Location Date Time
Mays High School Auditorium April 27, 2017 6 – 7 p.m.
Burgess-Peterson Elementary School Auditorium May 2, 2017 6 – 7 p.m.
Long Middle School Auditorium May 11, 2017 6 – 7 p.m.
Sutton Middle School Auditorium May 18, 2017 6 – 7 p.m.

Proposed budget for FY2018 is $777 million
The proposed spending plan of $777 million is $15 million more than the current budget (FY2017), does not call for a tax increase and includes a 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for all school employees. Other key aspects of the proposed FY2018 budget include:

  • APS continues to reduce administrative costs while increasing spending in the classroom. The proposed budget includes about $8 million in cuts to central office administration while $10.5 million (an increase of $3.5 million from FY2017) is devoted to the continuation of the district’s signature programming (STEM, International Baccalaureate and College and Career Prep), a key component of the district’s cluster model and its effort to improve student achievement.
  • Principals will have even more autonomy and flexibility with their individual school budgets as APS is taking part in a pilot program – commonly referred to as Fund 150 – that allows them to combine federal Title I funds with their general fund school allotment.
  • The budget was crafted as the district continues to be financially challenged by an increasing pension fund and rising healthcare costs.

Community meetings allow for public understanding, input
The scheduled community meetings are a part of APS’ budget-building process. The first meeting (Thursday, April 27) will be held prior to the May meeting of the Atlanta Board of Education (Monday, May 1) where the spending plan will be presented to board members for tentative adoption. Final adoption will take place at the June meeting – Monday, June 5.

“The community meetings are an opportunity for our constituents to learn about our budgeting process, find out some of the key financial challenges and parameters, and provide us with feedback,” said APS Chief Financial Officer Robert Morales, who will deliver the presentation at the meetings with APS Budget Executive Director Lisa Bracken. “At the end of the day, we want to ensure that our process is transparent, professional, and efficient and provides all of our students with a world-class education.”

“When we begin any budget discussion we approach it from the standpoint of what is best for kids. This budget proposal reflects that philosophy,” APS Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen said. “It is balanced, equitable, and student-centered and focuses our resources in the areas of our greatest needs. We will always put students and schools first in everything we do.”

Public Input Sought on District Budget Parameters and Scenarios for 2016-2017 School Year

2016-17 School Budget Community Meetings
Atlanta Public Schools will host four community meetings to gain feedback on the proposed budget for the 2016-2017 school year.

By Seth Coleman

Atlanta Public Schools is continuing to advance through the district’s budgeting process, which began in September 2015, with the development of the budget parameters for the 2016-2017 school year. Now the district needs feedback from you.

During the March 7  Atlanta Board of Education meeting, APS Chief Financial Officer Robert Morales presented a plan to board members that aligns spending with the budget parameters and various budget scenarios. APS has scheduled four public hearings to provide more details on the district’s budget-building process and receive public comment on its Fiscal Year 2017 General Fund Budget scenarios.

The meeting schedule is as follows:

DATE TIME LOCATION
Thursday, March 10 6-7 p.m. Therrell High School Auditorium
3099 Panther Trail, SW
Thursday, March 17 6-7 p.m. Sylvan Hills Middle School Auditorium
1461 Sylvan Road, SW
Thursday, March 24 6-7 p.m. North Atlanta High School Auditorium
4111 Northside Parkway, NW
Thursday, March 31 6-7 p.m. Inman Middle School Auditorium
774 Virginia Avenue, NE

The Fiscal Year 2017 budget is expected to be presented to board members for tentative adoption on Monday, April 11.

“This is an opportunity for you to learn the basics of our budgeting process, receive an overview of our current budget challenges and parameters, and provide your feedback,” Morales said. “Our goal is to facilitate a transparent and well-organized budget development process as part of the larger commitment to provide a world-class education to all students.”

For more information on the proposed budget parameters and scenarios, click here.

Atlanta Public Schools Presents FY16 Tentative Budget; Announces Community Budget Conversations Schedule

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Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen presented the tentative Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) General Fund Budget to the Atlanta Board of Education during its March 2, 2015 work session. The $683 million budget is to cover operating costs for the 2015-2016 school year.

The tentative budget sets the course for Atlanta Public Schools to improve quality and increase efficiency with the system operating in the proper capacity and at the right size for years to come.

The general budget of $682.8 million is approximately a $25 million increase over fiscal year’s 2015 budget of $657.6 million. The growth in revenue is attributed to anticipated increases in state funding as well as local property taxes.  The $25 million increase in revenue is offset by approximately $31 million in required expenditures going into Fiscal Year 2016:

  • $21 million to meet expected enrollment increases in APS charter schools that were previously authorized to phase in additional grades on an annual basis. The charter school budget will increase from $71M to $92M.
  • $5 million to properly service special education students. The Special Education budget will increase from $43.2M to $48M.
  • $3.7 million to address increased employer contribution rates in the Teacher Retirement System contribution.
  • $1.4 million for an increase in pension funding associated with the adoption of a pension funding plan.

As these items are non-negotiable for the district, APS is seeking to right size in other areas. They include reduction in central administration overhead that involves cuts in Central Office positions by nearly 10 percent for a savings of approximately $5 million. Additionally, APS is proposing a significant change in the method used to allocate staff at schools. Currently, the district assigns staffing for core, specialty and special education teachers at each school. For FY16, the proposed method would give each school a general allotment of teachers and another one for special education teachers. This allows each school discretion in how it assigns its core and specialty teachers. This new method will right size the teaching staff without impacting instruction and yield about $8.77 million in reductions.

This approach in the FY16 budget also gives each school flexible dollars for them to tailor more staffing and programs that address unique needs and demands of their students. Additionally, this school-level decision making and discretion align with the goal of the proposed Charter System operating model for the district.

In preparation for the implementation of the Charter System operating model, APS has defined a multi-year budget strategy that features:

  • Evaluating all funding requests for alignment to the district’s mission and vision;
  • Identifying the resources required to support enrollment trends and to implement strategic priorities, initiatives and budget parameters;
  • Reducing general administration and central administration costs to redirect resources to support strategic priorities including initial efforts to right-size the district;
  • Accelerate full funding of pension benefits.

In submitting the tentative budget, Superintendent Carstarphen promised effective communication through two-way, transparent communications throughout the budget adoption process.

“I believe it is important to provide APS stakeholders with a better understanding of how we fund schools, departments and services with their tax dollars,” Dr. Carstarphen said. “I have a responsibility to ensure that all resources – local, state, federal and private dollars – are used to their fullest potential. We pledge to deliver a high-quality education that is supported by a responsible, transparent and efficient budget process.”

APS will continue the budget process through April, which will include addressing a number of unfunded priorities. The school board will consider options such as millage rate changes, the district’s fund balance, other financial resources due to APS, and new creative solutions.

As part of the process, APS will hold two additional Budget Commission meetings to continue evaluation of the FY16 General Fund and Special Revenue budgets as well as community budget conversations to gather public comments.

Budget Commission Meetings will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Thursdays, March 19 and April 2 in the Benjamin E. Mays Conference Room, at the Center for Learning and Leadership, 130 Trinity Street, S.W., Atlanta 30303.

There will be four community conversations held across the district:

  • March 11 – Young Middle School
  • March 18 – Springdale Park Elementary School
  • March 25 – South Atlanta High
  • April 1 – Garden Hills Elementary School.

These meetings will start at 6 p.m.

The school board will consider adoption of the final FY16 General Fund Budget April 13.