Decatur Schools expansion helps fuel $5 million budget increaseThe front steps of Decatur High School. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
City Schools of Decatur recently published its draft of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget that shows the system spending $5 million more than anticipated revenue.
Much of the added expense is due to the system’s expansion and growth.
Superintendent Phyllis Edwards said budget is a draft that assumes state funding will be essentially level, but the school system is awaiting the final word on what state funding will be. The Legislature is currently in session. The Fiscal Year begins on July 1, and the School Board will study the $55.2 million budget for several months before voting.
“As we get closer to the final vote, we will know more,” Finance Director Susan Hurst said.
The draft budget assumes the current millage rate, 20.5 mills, does not change.
The budget is a $4 million increase over the current budget. The bulk of that expense will be $1.9 million to hire about 25 more teachers. The system is adding about 400 children each year, Edwards said.
In 2014, CSD borrowed $18 million in certificates of participation money, referred to as COPS, to pay for expansion projects at Decatur High and Renfroe Middle. This year the school system will be making a $1.1 million payment on the COPS debt, according to the budget draft.
The school system will also spend $850,000 on portables to hold students during construction and ease crowding at schools. Edwards said there will be 10 portables at Renfroe and six to eight at the High School and another six spread across the city’s elementary schools. The city is renting the portables and Edwards said each one will cost the system about $50,000 in the first year because CSD will have to build things like ramps and handrails so students can use them.
Here is the FY 16 budget draft published by CSD: