More depressing school news today in the AJC about DeKalb’s efforts to address its $70 million deficit:
The DeKalb County School District is facing its worst budget in recent memory, so officials are weighing wholesale elimination of programs, including pre-kindergarten, magnet school transportation and Montessori schools.
“We’re putting everything on the table,” said Jesse “Jay” Cunningham, a school board member who serves on the board’s budget committee. The committee got a long list of possible cuts at a meeting Monday, along with a picture of the potential for new revenue — $29 million — if the board raises the property tax rate by two mills.
Last week, Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson revealed that the school district faces a $73 million deficit. Chief Financial Officer Michael Perrone said about $24 million of it was due to collapsing real estate values, which reduce the amount that property owners pay in taxes. The rest is due to increasing costs, such as healthcare and retirement benefits.
Perrone also revealed this: while most school systems strive to keep at least a month’s worth of operating expenses in the bank, DeKalb has nothing in reserves. Indeed, the district is on a path to finish this fiscal year with a $6 million deficit. Those bills would have to be pushed into the next fiscal year, pushing the budget gap to as much as $79 million, Perrone told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog