Atlanta schools budget includes 1.5 percent raises, job cuts

Most Atlanta school district employees would get a 1.5 percent raise next year under the district's proposed budget.

But that budget would also trim the district's workforce by 335 positions, including dozens of teachers.

The raises and cuts follow the pattern of the current budget, which also eliminated dozens of jobs and sent more money to the district's lowest performing schools while awarding raises and bonuses.

Many of the positions slated for elimination this year are at low-performing schools that will be managed by private charter school groups this coming school year. Some staff at those schools will be rehired by the schools’ new operators. But Atlanta Public Schools' central office staff would also be cut by more than two dozen.

All told, the proposed budget would cut 487 positions and create 152.

The $777 proposed budget, a $15 million increase over the current year, would allocate $7 million more for instruction than the current budget. And it includes $36 million to improve the district's lowest performing schools.

The increased spending would be funded largely through an additional $30 million in local property tax revenues.

However, because of rising property values, the higher spending would not require a tax increase.

"This budget gives our employees a cost of living adjustment of 1.5 percent, it directs more money to the classroom and we found efficiencies in the system," budget commission chair Jason Esteves said. "We're doing all that without increasing taxes."

Although the state budget signed by Gov. Nathan Deal today includes funding for a 2 percent salary increase for teachers and other employees, the funding works out to a slightly smaller raise for Atlanta staff because the district’s salary schedule is already higher than the state’s minimum salary schedule, district chief financial officer Robert Morales said.

The Atlanta school board gave preliminary approval to the budget Monday night. The board is scheduled to hold a final vote on June 5.