The proposed budget features a general fund balance or rainy day fund of $20 million, restoration of a full 190-day school calendar by the elimination of four remaining teacher furlough days, reduction of class sizes by hiring 90 new teachers, providing all employees with a 1 percent cost of living adjustment raise and increased investments in school safety and academic achievement.
The proposed 2015 budget includes estimated revenues of $801.5 million, excluding the $20 million fund balance, against estimated expenditures of over $800 million for the period July 1 to June 30, 2015.
“Providing quality educational opportunities for the children of DeKalb County is contingent upon the construction of a solid fiscal foundation,” said Thurmond. “We are restoring fiscal integrity by balancing the budget, rebuilding our general fund balance and increasing funding for classroom instruction, without raising taxes. We have made significant progress on the journey back from the fiscal crisis that existed a little over 12 months ago.”
During fiscal 2013, the school district labored under a $14 million deficit from the prior year and had less than $100,000 in its general fund balance. School-based employees endured six furlough days and had worked six years without a pay raise. District budget officers had projected an additional $24 million dollar deficit when the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013.
Following his appointment in February 2013, Thurmond informed the newly reconstituted board of education of the existence of millions in federal and local revenue streams that had not been included in previous projections. The board subsequently adopted Thurmond’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal that included the newly discovered revenue and deep cuts in legal fees and central office costs. A state report later confirmed the deficit had been eliminated and the district ended the fiscal year with a small surplus.
The 2015 proposed budget includes $2.1 million for the hiring, training and equipping of six new school resource officers who will be assigned to patrol and monitor district elementary schools. More than $23 million is proposed for school-based academic enhancements, which include $8 million to add 100 new teachers and support staff and $5.3 million for new textbooks and rebinding of old textbooks. Increased funding is also proposed for the International Baccalaureate program.
“For the past 15 months, the board and Superintendent Thurmond have worked hard and collaboratively to be good stewards of the district’s resources,” said Melvin Johnson, board chair. “The hopes and dreams of the children of DeKalb County rely on our leadership.”