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Decatur School Board to consider budget amendment to fund 13 staff positions

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Decatur School Board to consider budget amendment to fund 13 staff positions

City Schools of Decatur School Board from left, James Herndon (vice chair), Dr. Carmen Sulton, Jana Johnson-Davis (chair), Superintendent Dr. Maggie Fehrman, Tasha White and Hans Utz. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated. 

Decatur, GA — The City Schools of Decatur School Board will meet on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 6:30 p.m. for a regular meeting. The meeting will be held in person at the Wilson School Support Center, 125 Electric Ave., and via Zoom.

During the meeting, the school board will consider adopting a budget amendment to cover the cost of 13 staff positions and the cost associated with position enhancements for employees who were promoted or compensated for upper-level responsibilities, according to a summary of the fiscal year 2023 budget development and amendments.

“The 13 positions include 11.5 elementary school classroom teacher positions,” the summary states.

Here are the meeting access instructions:

The board will continue the practice of streaming meetings via Zoom and available at the following link.

Join the Board Meeting: https://csdecatur.zoom.us/j/95614159391

To join by phone dial 1-646-558-8656 or +1-301-715-8592

The webinar ID is 956 1415 9391.

To view the meeting agenda, click here.

To make a public comment, in-person attendees can register online before the meeting or upon arrival by scanning a QR Code on the Board Room entrance. Registration will ensure that the district collects information necessary to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing. Please ensure the name you enter on the form matches the name you use(d) to sign-up. If the names do not match, it will not be possible for you to be recognized to participate in public comment. To sign up for public comment, click here.

If the amendment is approved, CSD’s budget would total $88.7 million.

At the July 12 school board meeting, the board approved a $640,000 budget amendment for three new positions, a superintendent search, increased fuel costs and increased insurance premiums.

The school board also learned that funding for 16 staff positions may be added to the fiscal year 2023 budget at a cost of $2.6 million. The board will discuss a second budget amendment at the Aug. 9 meeting to address the funding for 13 of these positions. Three positions were approved at the July meeting.

Throughout the budget process, Superintendent Maggie Fehrman and Chief Financial Officer Lonita Broome explained that the district’s budget would face a variety of challenging issues, including the transfer of about $2.3 million of salary and benefits to the FY23 general fund. That budget item had been paid for with CARES Act funding in FY22.

In March, the school board considered a plan to reduce expenses and increase the fund balance as enrollment was projected to decrease by 143 students and the project fund balance was 2.45%. Reducing expenses included a 5% cut to all operational budgets and eliminating 26 positions across the district through the new staffing allotment, which was to result in a saving in personnel of about $2 million, according to the budget summary.

During the meeting on July 12, Fehrman explained that the district needed to eliminate 26 positions through natural attrition, but only eliminated 10 positions. The FY23 budget was built on the assumption that 26 employees would be leaving the district.

In the FY 23 budget, all staff who wanted to return were retained, and a new staffing allotment formula was implemented.

“We also only wanted to eliminate positions that were vacant due to natural attrition, so that was one of the caveats as we were implementing this new staffing allotment,” Fehrman said. “We finished staffing our schools. At the end of the day, we realized that we were only able to eliminate 10 positions instead of that 26 that we had initially anticipated.”

That leaves 16 positions that are filled and need to be funded, since the funding was not included in the FY 23 budget.

“The 16 positions that we wanted to try to eliminate, we were not able to eliminate because we just had to replace the staff that were leaving, and then we were not able to find another position that could be eliminated,” Fehrman said. “As we wanted to keep staff in our school system that want to work for us, we have them coming back.”

Also on the agenda, the school board will consider approving an intergovernmental agreement with the city of Decatur and the Decatur Public Facilities Authority to develop a track and field at Legacy Park. The Decatur City Commission approved the agreement at its Aug. 1 meeting.

According to the Legacy Park Master Plan, a competition level track and field was one of the most requested facilities during the master planning process. The concept in the master plan has the track and field located to the east of the historic core and near the next to the conservation easement of the park.

“Furthermore, the demand for outdoor, recreation space was heightened during the pandemic, and demand for such facilities within the city remains high,” City Manager Andrea Arnold wrote in a memo. “There currently are not enough athletic fields to meet the demands for recreational and competitive activities, and there is no running track available in the city for community or school use. The city and school system recognize this unique opportunity to partner to bring this desired facility to the community.”

The city will commit up to $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding, and the school board will contribute up to $3 million in ESPLOST funds.

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