Atlanta school board approves position cuts, tentative budget

The Atlanta school board tentatively approved an $815 million general fund budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. 

The budget received its first of two approvals Monday by a 7-1 vote, with Byron Amos opposed. Michelle Olympiadis abstained from the vote; she did not publicly explain her reason for doing so.

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It is one of several metro Atlanta counties to install the cameras.

Earlier in the meeting, Amos said he opposed a staffing plan to abolish nearly 300 positions and create 133 positions. Of the positions to be cut, a sizable chunk come from 41 vacant positions and 67 positions at Carver High School, which starting next school year will be run by Purpose Built Schools. In 2016, the school board authorized the nonprofit charter group to manage Carver. APS pays Purpose Built to manage the school and employ the staff.

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APS reported that 30.5 central office positions will be abolished and 12 created.

Amos said he opposed the staffing plan because it gets rid of positions such as parent liaisons and community engagement specialists in his central Atlanta district. He said he hoped “that’s something we’ll be able to straighten out” before approval of the final budget.

A full list of the positions to be abolished and created can be found here.

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said the staffing plan is based on recommendations by schools and their governance teams. She also pointed to budget constraints -- including mandatory costs such as employee retirement and pension plans and health care.

The staffing plan was approved by a 8-1 vote, with Amos opposed.

The tentative budget includes a $12 million compensation package that would give employees a 1 percent salary increase and a step increase. 

Officials have said it was challenging to create the general fund budget because of Fulton County’s tax collection delays and property value freezes. 

“It’s been one crazy year, and I think we are just stepping into the second crazy year with so many unknowns,” said Nancy Meister, chairwoman of the Atlanta Board of Education Budget Commission. 

This month, Atlanta Public Schools will hold public meetings, all of which begin at 6 p.m., on the fiscal year 2019 budget. The dates and locations are as follows: Thursday at Grady High School, May 14 at Bunche Middle School, May 17 at Brown Middle School, and May 21 at Garden Hills Elementary School. 

The school board will vote on the final adoption of the budget on June 4.

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