Atlanta school board approves $1.7 billion budget

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

The Atlanta school board voted 7-2 Monday night to approve the district’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Board members Michelle Olympiadis and Tamara Jones voted against the proposal, saying the board needed more time to review it.

“It just seems like by the time the board really got involved in talking about the budget, it was really kind of almost fully baked,” Jones said.

The superintendent prepares the budget with help from the chief financial officer. Some board members also serve on a budget commission that also provides input.

In the new budget year, which starts July 1, the district is allocating $59.3 million toward increasing compensation. Officials said they want Atlanta Public Schools to become more competitive with neighboring school districts and predict the pay bumps will put them in the 75th percentile of metro Atlanta districts.

All employees will receive higher base compensation. Returning employees will receive raises between 6.5% and 8.4%. The district is offering one-time payments for new teachers. Those who teach high-needs subjects, such as math or Spanish, can earn a bonus of $3,000-$5,000. New teachers who accept a position at schools targeted for intensive interventions or turnaround will receive one-time payments of $800-$1,000.

The budget also includes a $4.5 million increase in safety and security spending. That includes $800,000 for school resource officers at elementary schools. Chief Financial Officer Lisa Bracken said that would pay for an additional five to six officers, who would likely float among schools.

A good part of the budget — more than $700 million — goes toward staff salaries and benefits. Other notable expenditures include $1 million for the continuation of athletic trainers, $2.6 million for software purchases and system upgrades, an additional $10 million to cover inflationary costs on contracts and facility supplies, and a little over $4 million to pay for school board elections.