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DeKalb School Budget Approved

Contentious meeting yields "a budget we can work with."

The DeKalb County Board of Education now has an $8.3 million reserve fund, following a heated debate Thursday evening at the district's headquarters in Stone Mountain.

The final vote on the new budget was 5-4. The board faced an $85 million budget deficit. "It was a hard decision. There were hard choices across the board," said DeKalb School System spokesman Walter Woods. "We've been deliberating for weeks, and now we have a budget we can work with."

The main points of the budget are:

  • There are four furlough days on the current calendar; there will be an additional two furlough days for a total of six furlough days, for Central Office and educators.
  • Additional two students per class, standard and special education classes.
  • A 1-mill tax increase, which is about $80 on a $200,000 house per year.
  • Fernbank's budget has been reduced by $1.9 million from its budget of $5 million. It will remain open as a fully functioning science center.

"If this is what they can do to operate the budget, we still have to put the children first," said Lucinda O'Neal, a social studies teacher at Redan Middle School, where she's taught for at least ten years. "As an educator, I'm committed."

Jonathan Cribbs June 21, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Let's see if the school board can settle on a budget today...
Tom L. June 22, 2012 at 01:31 AM
The problem will not go away, will it? This board will have to face the same issues again and again until we wise up to two truths: 1. DeKalb County Public Schools cannot afford to educate (and babysit) all constituents's children from 2-21, operate a private school system within a system, and hold its teachers responsible for all the ills of the system without equitable recompense. 2. Neither this board, nor this administration has a prayer of ever leading DeKalb back to a position of respect. They are too busy tripping over each other in some misguided attempt to be more inept than is believable.
Randy Faigin David June 22, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Where can I find the video of tonight's meeting to replay it?
Lynn June 22, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Does anyone know which board members were for and which were against?
Tim Darnell (Editor) June 22, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Yes, Lynn. Voting for the tax increase and budget cuts were Eugene Walker, Jesse Cunningham, Sarah Copelin-Wood, Tom Bowen and Donna Edler. Voting against them were Pam Speaks, Paul Womack, Nancy Jester and Don McChesney.
Decaturette June 22, 2012 at 05:16 AM
No cutting of Central Office by 300 positions as recommended by the Budget Committee? No reduction of leadership's salaries and bonuses and allowances? The Board members are not foregoing their stipends in this period of hardship? Shame, shame, shame. A school system should be about every child who deserves a quality education as stipulated by law (as well as by common sense, civic duty, and compassion), not about warehousing, not about the grownups wanting high salaries, prestigious titles, or perks for themselves or positions for family.
Christine Callaway June 22, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Totally with you, Tom!!
Sherrie Crow June 22, 2012 at 12:52 PM
The tax increase will cost the average DeKalb homeowner $80. The furlough days will (again) cost the average DeKalb educator at least $1000. This is in addition to cuts that have slashed at least ten percent of every educator's pay over the last several years. Do you know a DeKalb teacher? Ask her how much her salary has decreased. Ask him how often he considers leaving the profession. Ask them if they feel valued by the community. Public education benefits all, yet a few are being asked to shoulder this burden. THIS is the real shame.
Brian Crowe June 22, 2012 at 01:29 PM
"The tax increase will cost the average DeKalb homeowner $80. " Unfortunately, it is likely to be less than that. I say unfortunately because home values will probably be lower as a result of the school system's problems.
Heather June 22, 2012 at 01:34 PM
I don't get why there is more political support for furlough days than tax increases. Except that the tax payers are not necessarily parents. But I can tell you as a parent, that an extra non-school day requires I find backup childcare, which is expensive. One extra day could easily run me $80 or more. Not every parent has access to free childcare or relatives available to help for things like this. Also as a manager who has combed over P&L statements looking for waste, I know there has to be more to cut in the budget than just salaries. Perhaps they have already gone there, but there is always room for improvment.
HDM June 22, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Vote out Walker, Cunningham, Copelin-Wood (especially), Bowen and Edler!
HDM June 22, 2012 at 01:53 PM
The community hasn't failed teachers, the system has. Blame has to start with the Board and administration.
HDM June 22, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Listen, there shouldn't have to be furlough days OR tax increases, the Board and administration are to blame, not citizens or teachers, so lets not frame this as taxpayers vs. teachers.
Me2NoU2Not June 22, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Here's a grand idea to save $$$ fire all the interpreters and stop printing everything in any language other than English! Does anyone have a clue of just how much money is wasted on this per county in Georgia much less the entire United States as a whole? I am willing to bet we would never have to debate closing the much needed Fernbank Science center if we just did this one simple thing. If the idea is to really educate then stop this madness and do so in one language=English.
Heather June 22, 2012 at 02:23 PM
I'd have to see the line items in the budget to make an educated decision on that. It may not be all you think.
Lynn June 22, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Thank you!
Daniel H. June 22, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Me2, They reduced the interpreters by 20 for a savings of $876,580.00
Me2NoU2Not June 22, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Wow, 20% saved us a whopping $876,580 huh? Imagine the savings if we had reduced it by 100% then! Is this enough proof people that this is a complete waste of taxpayers money? Do the math and all scream YES with me! Stop the insanity and pandering and simply teach/speak in English!
Nick June 22, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Yeah, this doesn't feel right...How do any of these moves improve the education of current students as well as attract new families (and their tax dollars) to the county? Central office salaries should be reduced by a minimum of 5% to start. Pump more resources into countywide improvements (blight, sidewalks) to attract more residents. 12+ (and counting) empty school buildings means alot of tax revenue was lost.
Daniel H. June 22, 2012 at 03:10 PM
20 individual interpreters, not 20%. I have no idea how many there are. The rest of your comment is just shrill and not based on the realities of the school system.
Jonathan June 22, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Well...the good news is that they can only be irresponsible with our hard earned dollars to the tune of around one more mil and then they can actually begin solving issues. For those that "trust" county folks (Bd. of Ed or county commissioners) and don't want the city, this WILL BE our future if we, in Brookhaven, do not incorporate into a city.
Heather June 22, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Are you really going to balance the DeKalb County School Board budget by going English only? I suspect for you it is an issue of principles. So please leave the budget debate out of it to justify your policy recommendation. Either it is right or wrong to translate information into another language for students and parents. An educator wants to make sure that their students can understand and comprehend the material. I can reasonably see a translation being a real necessity to communicating critical infromation to parents and children with the current demographics of the school system.
Daniel H. June 22, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Are you planning on setting up a City of Brookhaven School System Jonathan? Otherwise the Brookaven Yes or No debate has no bearing on Dekalb County Schools.
Greengirl June 22, 2012 at 05:53 PM
DeKalb County has one of the largest populations of immigrants and many of the kids cannot speak English. How exactly are they to be educated and integrated into our culture if there is no one available to speak to them?
Tom L. June 22, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Wow. No wonder our elected officials can't lead a direct discussion on education issues, nor follow a simple train of thought. They are just like their constituents! What started as a discussion of unfair treatment of teachers by our BOE went to a pet peeve of a xenophobic and ended up with should Brookhaven be a city. My my my, we can't follow through with a single thought. If I were an elected official I would never fear a recall from a population that jumps from one shiny object to the next as quickly as possible. No way could we hold those elected accountable...
Don Green June 23, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Keep soaking the tax payers to pay for your failed school system. I was at Cross Keys HS today and the A/C is running when nobody is in the building, try turning it off and save us some money!
Eric H June 25, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Yes this is most unfortunate, I wish they would have focused more on cutting central office staff and salaries as well as non core education areas. The school capital budget also seems excessive while spent with SPLOST dollars I still don't see how building more parking spaces or entrance roads improves education.
Eric H June 25, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Hire bilingual teachers. All children are coming from parents paying tax dollars, since the schools are largely funded by property taxes and sales taxes. In Suffolk County NY they have an innovative program starting in 1st grade where the spanish speaking kids learn english while english speaking kids learn spanish. Teaching a 2nd language at a young age as immeasurable educational benefits. Yes people in apartments pay property taxes through rent. And while this only effects the county side, apartments don't get the HOST credit against the county taxes.
Barbara Fountain June 30, 2012 at 02:31 PM
The HUGE salaries at the Palace should have been the first cuts. And I mean huge cuts, along with the unneeded "coaches". There are many ass't. superintendent positions that could be eliminated also! They instead cut needed clerical positions.

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