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City Schools of Decatur looking to offer employees one-time $2,000 bonus per governor’s budget

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City Schools of Decatur looking to offer employees one-time $2,000 bonus per governor’s budget

City Schools of Decatur Chief Financial Officer Lonita Broome (right) presented the preliminary FY 2023 budget to the School Board on Feb. 8. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur School Board, at its Feb. 8 meeting, expressed its intent to offer all employees a one-time $2,000 bonus and make adjustments to the budget to make that possible.

To fulfill these bonuses, the total impact to CSD’s general fund would be an expenditure of about $1.3 million for fiscal year 2022 and about $1.7 million for the next fiscal year. The district will receive some funding from the state to provide the bonus.

At the beginning of fiscal year 2022, the district had about $10 million in its fund balance, which is the reserve fund. In order to give the bonus to staff and balance the budget for this year, CSD would have to put about $4.5 million from the fund balance into the general fund. At the end of the fiscal year, the district anticipates having about $5.5 million in the fund balance.

The fund balance is also looked at in terms of percentage of expenditures in the general fund that come from the reserves. That would decrease from 7.1% to 6.5% for the current fiscal year, 2022. The current fiscal year ends on June 30.

Gov. Brian Kemp released his proposed $30.2 billion budget for 2023 on Jan. 13 after a speech where he shared his spending wish list and announced his support for base-pleasing proposals, according to the Georgia Recorder.

Between the amended 2022 budget and next year’s budget, the governor is suggesting about $650 million to reverse cuts made to public education and pay for a one-time $2,000 raise for full-time school employees and a $1,000 raise for part-time employees.

“Austerity reduction for fiscal year 22 is proposed to be restored, which will eliminate the $1.3 million reduction in the current budget. Since the austerity reduction is restored, that means more funds from the state, which means the local five mill share will increase,” CSD Chief Financial Officer Lonita Broome said. “An additional $371,867 is projected to increase for the local five mill share.”

While the governor proposed giving part-time employees a $1,000 bonus, CSD will give all of its employees a $2,000 bonus. Teachers, school nutrition workers and bus drivers are slated to receive a bonus.

The district anticipates seeing $2 million more in revenue, however, about $1 million will be used for one-time supplement payments, which means expenses will increase by that same amount, Broome added.

This one-time bonus would have some significant impacts on the fiscal year 2023 budget. The fund balance would begin at about $5.5 million but about $3.4 million would be needed to balance the FY23 budget, meaning the projected ending fund balance would be roughly $2.2 million and the fund balance expenditure percentage would be 2.45%.

The fund balance percentage is usually between 4-12%.

The School Board tentatively approved providing the $2,000 bonus to all employees, and the district administration will explore different options to do so and keep the fund balance at the minimum of 4% for fiscal year 2023.

“Part of that is already in the works as we are looking at adjusting our allocations for staffing to the current staffing allotment formula that we’re using already to take into consideration that some unfilled positions will not be refilled, so that will decrease our expenditures, which will help this practice,” Superintendent Maggie Fehrman said.

The Wilson Center is also experiencing a hiring freeze, and the central office staff is going through an audit to evaluate what positions could be hired or eliminated.

“We are looking at line by line items at our department budgets to make decisions on what can be paused, what can be eliminated,” Fehrman said. “We are starting at central office before we look at making any changes in our schools.”

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