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DeKalb Board of Education approves budget that includes $257 million for maintenance

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DeKalb Board of Education approves budget that includes $257 million for maintenance

DeKalb County School District Administration and Instructional Complex on Mtn. Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain. Photo by Dean Hesse

By Sara Amis, contributor 

DeKalb County, GA — Following widespread public attention to the condition of DeKalb County School District facilities, and intervention from the Georgia Department of Education, the district has significantly increased spending on maintenance and operations.

DCSD plans to spend $257 million on maintenance and operations in FY 23, $122 million more than the FY 22 allocation.

The FY 23 budget includes $20 million in step increase raises for employees, $50 million for deferred maintenance, $2 million to hire additional maintenance workers, bus drivers, and other operations staff, $6 million for additional campus security, and $4 million for additional school psychologists, counselors, nurses, and social workers.

The district plans to spend $23 million on technology, including infrastructure, equipment, and staff.

Another $5 million will be spent to raise employee pay to a $15 per hour minimum.

Board member Marshall Orson said that the district should consider ways to support employees beyond the payroll, including helping those who only work during the school year to find alternate employment during the summer.

The budget presentation by Chief Financial Officer Charles Burbridge included the district’s plans for the remaining Consolidated Appropriations Act (CARES) and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, including $22.7 million for hiring additional teachers to reduce class sizes, $34 million to hire multi-tiered support staff, and $156 million in additional facilities and operations projects.

Burbridge stated that programs begun during the pandemic would not simply stop after the funds were spent.

“You will see more and more high-priority items being moved from ESSER back to the general fund so that they can be maintained,” said Burbridge.

During the discussion, board member Hill brought up concerns that underutilized facilities could affect the district’s Quality Basic Education funding, that the district lacks a clear organizational chart, and that a previous discussion of hiring an outside accounting firm to examine the district’s ESSER spending was not acted upon.

Hill also referred to a recent state audit of the district’s CARES Act spending, which depicted both progress and room for improvement in the district’s financial management.

“We no longer have a material weakness in internal control. That’s a really big deal. It’s very good news. However, we still have some significant deficiencies,” said Hill.

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