DeKalb Schools proposes $1.161B budget for 2019-2020 school year

DeKalb County School District officials have proposed a $1.161 billion operating budget for the 2019-2020 school year, up $64 million from the previous year's approved budget.

Michael Bell, the district's chief financial officer, presented the budget proposal Monday afternoon to the DeKalb Board of Education during its monthly Committee of the Whole meeting. Nearly half the increase is for teacher raises.

The proposed budget is a more than 50 percent increase from the $760 million budget the DeKalb Board of Education approved for the 2015-2016 school year. Board member Stan Jester said he was concerned the district would be dipping into its reserves for the second consecutive year to cover shortfalls.

“We’re still projected to spend more than we’re taking in,” Jester said. “I’m concerned with what we’re doing with our fund balance.”

The district also held its first budget hearing on the proposed budget Monday afternoon, though officials did not post the budget summary until 5 p.m., 30 minutes before hearing was scheduled to begin. Officials initially said the summary would be posted online following the monthly meeting, but it was posted earlier after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution requested the document.