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DeKalb Schools Dig Out of Financial Hole

Small pay raises are included in the next DeKalb County Schools budget and furlough days have been eliminated. Plans also call for 100 new teachers to be hired to reduce class sizes.

Small pay raises are included in the next DeKalb County Schools budget and furlough days are eliminated. File|Patch
Small pay raises are included in the next DeKalb County Schools budget and furlough days are eliminated. File|Patch

After at least six years of no pay raises and various furlough days to help balance the books, the DeKalb County School District has enough new revenue to hire more teachers and offer a small raise to current employees.

All employees will get a 1 percent pay raise, and the four teacher furlough days that were in this year’s budget will be erased next year if Superintendent Michael Thurmond’s budget is adopted, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thurmond presented the proposed 2014-15 fiscal year budget at Monday’s school board meeting.

“There will be no more teacher furlough days in DeKalb County,” Thurmond said, calling the turnaround “almost to some extent miraculous.”

According to the school district website, the proposed budget features a general fund balance or “rainy day” fund of $20 million, restoration of a full 190-day school calendar with no teacher furlough days, reduction of class sizes by hiring 100 new teachers, and providing all employees with a 1 percent cost of living adjustment raise. 

The FY2015 proposed budget includes estimated revenues of $801,547,870, excluding the $20 million fund balance, against estimated expenditures of $800,144,877 for the period July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015.

“Providing quality educational opportunities for the children of DeKalb County is contingent upon the construction of a solid fiscal foundation,” said Thurmond. “We are restoring fiscal integrity by balancing the budget, rebuilding our general fund balance and increasing funding for classroom instruction, without raising taxes. We have made significant progress on the journey back from the fiscal crisis that existed a little over 12 months ago.”

During the 2013 fiscal year, the district has hampered by a $14 million deficit from the previous year and had roughly $100,000 in its general fund. Employees were forced to take six furlough days and had worked for six years without pay raises.

After his appointment in February 2013, Thurmond told Board of Education members there were millions of dollars in federal and local revenue that had not been included in previous budget projections. The board adopted Thurmond’s FY2014 budget proposal that included the newly discovered revenue and deep cuts in legal fees and central office costs.

A state report later confirmed that the deficit had been eliminated and the district ended the fiscal year with a small surplus.

David Brown May 06, 2014 at 05:03 PM
As a new resident of DeKalb, this is great news for me to read!
Kirk Lunde May 06, 2014 at 11:13 PM
Next month is when the BOE will vote on the class size waiver. I expect it to be the same as the current one. Class sizes may decrease by 1, but the waiver will give them the cover to not reduce class size. Also, Ty got it wrong in the AJC. Most classes in DeKalb County are over the state maximum by 6 students, not 2.
Octo Slash May 07, 2014 at 07:56 AM
See? The Stimulus worked!
Georgian Idle May 07, 2014 at 07:57 AM
You do realize that this is all because taxes went up don't you? It's not because of great management and savings. Take a look at your property tax bill compared to last year!
TruthWillSetYouFree May 07, 2014 at 11:29 AM
Georgian. Did my bill go up because they raised the tax rate or did it go up because my house value went up?

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