“The fact that it did not draw a lot of discussion this evening is not indicative of all the work that went into it,” said District 3 school board member Gail Dean, who represents Hapeville and parts of Sandy Springs and East Point. “This is a huge budget. It’s a balanced budget.”
The total Fulton County School System budget is $1.1 billion with a general fund of $810 million, slimmed down from fiscal 2012’s $1.8 billion and $819.5 million, respectively, with the 18.502 millage rate unchanged.
Also during the meeting, the board heard Superintendent Robert Avossa’s strategic plan.
“What we’ve come up with are five big ideas,” Avossa said about focusing on instruction, people, technology, resources and effective schools.
The plan, which also has “three big goals,” he said, takes direct aim at private schools.
“We’re not just a viable option but we should be the top option in our county,” Avossa said. “You want to compete against the best public and private schools and districts.”
The plan’s No. 1 goal, he said, affects all 100 schools but is only achieved in its 17 high schools.
“We want to make sure our kids graduate,” Avossa said.
While the system’s 70 percent rate beat the state’s 67 percent, he set the bar higher, citing school systems nationwide with rates ranging from 74 to 91.4 percent.
Although 90 percent seems like an audacious goal, looking at some of the districts that are getting this right, we can do this,” Avossa said. “We have some schools that already outperform the 90 percent goal.”
Goals Nos. 2 and 3 are a “great environment” in which to learn, Avossa said, and 100 percent work readiness regardless of college plans.
The board indicated acceptance of budgeting $300,000 for 10,000 students to take a workforce assessment test.
“It imbeds the skills that employers say they need,” Avossa said.
District 4 school board member Linda Bryant, who represents south Fulton, said even college-bound seniors may need to know its results.
“Not all children who go to college finish college. You may go to college and need to work to finish college,” she said. “You need skills.”