The 7-0 vote on Superintendent Robert Avossa’s proposed financial plan came during last week's school board meeting at Dunwoody Springs Elementary in Sandy Springs.
The budget, subject to a final vote of approval scheduled for the June 10 meeting, was generally referenced in favorable terms by school board members. The fiscal year starts July 1 and the budget must be approved by June 30.
“Working on that modified zero-based budget I think has really helped us to understand and it’s helping the public to understand that it’s making everybody accountable,” said District 7 board member Julia Bernath.
Avossa’s plan takes into account the district’s growth regarding student population. More than 1,000 new students are expected to be enrolled in the district’s schools for fiscal 2015 — at a cost of $3 million.
To ensure the “timeliness” of resources for its schools, the district’s chief administrator is recommending it re-establish a $3.7 million instructional reserve. The plan also calls for a 3 percent, one-time salary increase for all employees.
District CFO Robert Morales, appearing before the school board last week, will receive the tax digest from the Fulton County Tax Commissioner’s Office later this month.
“We don’t anticipate a [special] millage hearing right now, but we haven’t seen the details. As we all know, the devil’s in the details,” Morales said.
District 4 board member Linda Bryant said the governing body had no intention of raising property taxes, though.
“I think our community should be thankful as they will be able to say to us, ‘You’ve managed to work this budget and get it to where it is without raising [the] millage [rate],’” Bryant said. “I think [in light of] other entities raising their millage, we have not done that, so I think that’s a plus for us.”
District 5 board member Linda McCain voiced concerns on the means by which this budget was crafted and possible improvements to the process going forward.
“We could be looking at the same situation where we’re not real comfortable with our tax digest projections,” McCain said. “I know other counties around us seemed a lot more willing to go with higher numbers than [Morales] was.”
Still, she commended Morales for being conservative in regard to his budgetary estimates and making “really painful” corrections when necessary.
“Going forward, just really trying to understand where this year it got a little uncomfortable for us would be great,” McCain said. “I do commend the superintendent and staff on a budget that I believe meets the needs of our students.”