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Decatur School Board tentatively adopts $97 million 2024 budget

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Decatur School Board tentatively adopts $97 million 2024 budget

Elizabeth Wilson School Support Center, City Schools of Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The City Schools of Decatur School Board, at its April 18 regular meeting, tentatively adopted the fiscal year 2024 budget. The budget for 2024 has increased by several million dollars compared to the current budget, largely due to increased salaries and benefits.

City Schools of Decatur’s budget is divided into four categories — the school nutrition revenue budget, the special revenue budget, the capital projects budget, and the general fund budget.

CSD has projected to receive about $95 million in general fund revenue. In the FY 23 budget, the district projected the general fund revenue to be at $86.4 million. About $1.9 million would be transferred from the district’s fund balance, or its reserves, to the general fund to balance the budget and bring the total projected revenue to about $97.3 million.

Here is the breakdown of the other budgets for fiscal year 2024:

– Special funds: $2.7 million

– School nutrition funds: $3.3 million

– Capital funds: $8.6 million

The district had about $12.1 million in budget requests, and the school board tentatively approved about $8.7 million in budget requests. In the proposed budget, the expenditures add up to about $97.3 million.

Most of the budget requests relate to personnel. About $4.4 million of the requests are due to increased benefits from the state. To give all employees a $2,000 salary increase, the impact on the budget is about $2.2 million. The state is covering a portion of the costs for benefits and salaries, but CSD will incur about $2.5 million of these increases.

Here are some of the other budget requests that were tentatively approved:

– Decatur High School requested $75,000 for International Baccalaureate test fees and $12,000 for Advanced Placement Testing fees. DHS also requests $320,0623 to hire three additional classroom teachers due to student growth.

– Beacon Hill Middle School requested $115,823 for an English language arts instructional coach and $106,678 for a gifted specialist.

“We definitely know that reading is a focus and want to make sure that we have those supports for those teachers at the middle school,” Superintendent Dr. Maggie Fehrman said. “They also asked for another gifted specialist. Their number of students receiving gifted segments has increased. They have not been serving those students as well as we would have hoped they would, so we’ve tentatively approved this request as well.”

– The teaching and learning department requested a total of $530,823. About $200,000 would go toward interventions to support students during the school district’s intersession. CSD was paying for this item with CARES Act funding and now needs to move the expenditure to the general fund.

About $125,000 will go toward reading materials and training.

“This is another support for our students that are in MTSS as well as students in the special education program to make sure all of their teachers are highly trained in the science of reading, they’re able to deliver high-quality, explicit instruction when it comes to reading interventions for those students,” Fehrman said.

In March, CSD released the findings of an independent evaluator who looked into how the district responded to a teacher using a racial slur in class. One of the recommendations from the evaluator was the district should hire someone who would focus on culturally responsive education and professional development.

“We opted instead to identify a person and pay them a stipend to do some extra work for us to help move that work forward,” Fehrman said.

– Additional staff positions were requested and tentatively approved. They include an ​​English to Speakers of Other Languages teacher, an occupational therapist and a director of restorative practices and student behavior.

– Under nursing and safety, $63,844 will go toward hiring a substitute nurse, and $207,000 is budgeted for contracted security officers.

“We have licensed nurses at all of our schools. When they are out, we have a great deal of trouble finding substitutes to come in and fill in for them. So, we are hiring kind of a Stellar sub nurse that will be on hand full time when there are nurses out across the district,” Fehrman said.

CSD typically has two school resource officers from the Decatur Police Department. But due to staffing shortages, the officers have been pulled from the schools. CSD is looking to hire two additional unarmed security officers.

“Even before that, we do know there is an extra need for safety and security,” Fehrman said. “Officers in our buildings will be unarmed officers that will be supporting and really leaning into the restorative practices, developing those close relationships with our students to help work on that prevention piece.”

– As part of the requests from human resources, CSD will increase its daily substitute rates. For non-certified substitutes, the rate increases from $100 to $150. The rate for certified substitutes is increasing from $145 to $175 for certified, and for long-term substitutes, it’s increasing from $165 to $200.

“We want to be competitive with our substitute force, so we are increasing those rates significantly, so we can pay our substitutes and attract and retain substitutes,” Fehrman said.

– Maintenance costs, such as energy costs and stormwater fees, are increasing. The school district will have to pay $95,000 in stormwater fees to the city, which has significantly increased from previous years, Fehrman said.

“We know our energy costs are significantly increasing,” Fehrman said. “We are currently struggling to find money in our current budget to cover the increased costs with inflation and energy costs rising. We have done the bare minimum to increase that budget there.”

To see the full list of budget requests, click here.

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