Atlanta teachers to get $3,000 raise after all

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen visits a classroom at Peyton Forest Elementary School on the first day of the 2018-2019 school year. The district announced Friday it would retroactively give teachers a more generous raise than initially budgeted.  AJC file photo by  BOB ANDRES  /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen visits a classroom at Peyton Forest Elementary School on the first day of the 2018-2019 school year. The district announced Friday it would retroactively give teachers a more generous raise than initially budgeted. AJC file photo by BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

Atlanta Public Schools plans to give teachers a more generous raise after updated local tax revenue projections came in higher than expected.

The school district announced today it intends to give teachers an average raise of $3,000 -- up from a $2,000 pay hike included in a budget approved by the school board June 3. 

“This is great news because we can honor our district’s promise to our educators to pay the raise as soon as we had the resources and without further delay,” said Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, in a written statement.

APS had been the only one of the six biggest metro Atlanta districts that wasn't giving its teachers the full $3,000 raise called for in the state budget. The decision drew criticism from teachers groups who said APS should find a way to fully fund the raises.

VIDEO: Previous coverage of this issue

The budget includes pay raises for teachers

Atlanta officials said doing so would take $4 million more than APS receives from the state and said APS didn’t have enough money to make up the difference.

Weeks ago, when the school board approved an $854 million general fund budget, APS based its budget on a "conservative" 4.3% increase in local property tax revenue. That was the district's best guess since Fulton County had yet to provide property value information.

Now, updated numbers show APS stands to receive $7.5 million more than the $621 million in local revenue it had initially projected. That represents a 5.6% increase over the previous fiscal year.

That means that district officials are comfortable recommending bigger raises for teachers, plus larger increases for other employees.

The additional money also will pay for new and increased stipends for teachers who take on extra duties as well as converting 38 special education paraprofessionals and 42 bus monitors into full-time employees who receive benefits.

The school board must still vote on the larger raises and budget changes.

District officials previously had said they would recommend an additional retroactive raise if APS received more revenue than the budget projected.

Besides from local property taxes, one other potential source of funding would be from the City of Atlanta. An agreement between the city and APS calls for the city to make multimillion dollar payments to the district as part of a settlement to end their dispute over the use of future school property taxes to help pay for the downtown Gulch development.

APS officials have said the city has been slow to make its first payment, due earlier this year. 

The district will recommend the school board keep the property tax millage rate at 20.74 mills, which reflects a 1.54 percent increase over the rollback millage rate. Public hearings will take place next month before the board votes on the millage rate.

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