APS to restore teacher raises 


APS to restore teacher raises 

Atlanta Public Schools teachers who were told this summer they wouldn’t get a raise will receive a pay bump after all. 

The school district also pulled back on plans to force employees to take two furlough days that had been scheduled for the second semester. 

APS officials announced Friday that the anticipated revenue shortfall stemming from Fulton County commissioners’ decision to mostly freeze property values will be significantly less than the $12 to $18 million the district initially estimated. 

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen notified employees in an email that the final tax digests from Fulton and DeKalb counties show the district now needs to cut “closer to $4 million.” 

The superintendent told staff in late June that the school district would delay a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase it had planned to give all employees this year and that salaries would stay at 2016 amounts. The district estimated that move would save $6 million. 

She planned to save $3 million more by having all employees take two days off without pay, one in February and one in March. 

But Friday, Carstarphen announced a partial reversal based on better-than-expected numbers, information that she said the district received earlier this week. 

“While we are disappointed that the revenue is less than our adopted budget anticipated, and that we must maintain a few select central administration program cuts to address the $4 million gap, we are relieved that we are able to restore some of the planned cuts,” she wrote in the email to employees. 

Teachers will receive a pay raise of about 1.5 percent, retroactive to the beginning of the school year, district officials said. 

Carstarphen said the district does not have money to give all employees a raise, but it will provide a one-time $500 payment to other full-time employees hired before Oct. 1. 

Funding for some new initiatives will be reduced to make up the remaining $4 million hole, according to a budget document posted Friday to the school board’s website. Areas slated for reductions include a textbook inventory system, records retention, and other program cuts. 

Carstarphen previously said APS based its budget on a 6 percent increase in Fulton County assessed values -- a projection that she said aligned with information provided by a county official. 

Instead, Fulton County froze many property values.

The school board plans to keep the same millage rate -- 21.74 mills -- as last year, said chairman Courtney English.

The board is scheduled to review the budget updates at a Tuesday meeting and is expected to adopt the final millage rate Sept. 21. 

English praised the effort to find “a way to provide much-needed raises to teachers” and eliminate furlough days in spite of what he called “very difficult” budget challenges prompted by the Fulton County situation. 

The state budget included money for a 2 percent increase to the state salary schedule for teachers, equivalent to the approximate 1.5 percent increase on APS salaries, according to district spokeswoman Pat St. Claire. Atlanta’s salary schedule is already above the state minimum.

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