Atlanta school board passes $658M budget

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APS to vote on proposed budget

The Atlanta school board approved a $658 million general fund budget Tuesday that includes teacher pay raises, the elimination of furlough days and more money for charter schools.

The board voted 6-3 on the spending plan, with dissenting votes coming from Jason Esteves, Nancy Meister and Steven Lee. Meister argued for smaller class sizes, and Esteves and Lee said they wanted more money distributed to schools and less spent on administration.

The budget is the school system’s most expensive ever, and it’s about 11 percent higher than last year’s $595 in general fund expenditures.

All employees will receive a pay raise, with the largest raises going to staff that has gone the longest time without an increase. Employees who haven’t received a pay bump in at least four years will get step increases amounting to about 5.6 percent raises, and those who received a raise in the last two to four years will get 2.8 percent raises and one-time bonuses of $1,000.

Three furlough days will be eliminated from next year’s school calendar, which also will boost employee pay.

Charter schools are projected to grow to cover about 7,000 of Atlanta’s 50,000 students next year, a jump of about 1,800 students. The largest charter school expansions are coming at the Atlanta Classical Academy in Buckhead, which opens this fall, and Centennial Place Academy, which is converting from a traditional public school to a charter school next school year.

The budget is funded by $633 million in tax revenue, which has increased along with property values during the economic recovery, and $25 million in reserve funds.

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