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. AJC FILE PHOTO

DeKalb Schools works toward budget, but many details unavailable yet

On May 6, the DeKalb County Board of Education commenced the district’s first budget hearing for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year.

But budget documents had not been made available to the public.

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.

Nearly half the increase is for teacher raises. The proposed budget is a more than 50% increase from the $760 million budget the DeKalb Board of Education approved for the 2015-2016 school year. The current budget proposal is for more than the district expects to receive in tax revenues for the upcoming year, meaning the district will dip into its reserves for the second consecutive year.

But questions remain, including how district officials intend to use state funds designated by Gov. Brian Kemp for $3,000 teacher raises. The millage rate likely won’t change, evidenced by the district’s intention to use its general fund balance to pay for cost overruns.

The second and third public hearings — as well as the first and second millage rate hearings — on the 2019-2020 budget are scheduled for June 10, the same day officials will vote to approve the tentative document. The final budget and tax rate are set to be approved on June 25.

“DeKalb County School District’s 2,100-page tentative budget document is produced after the tentative budget is voted on by the DeKalb County Board of Education in the annual budget process,” district officials said. That vote is scheduled for June 10, 2019. The document will be available around June 11 or 12. In the event that there are large changes that are made at the point of voting on June 10, it may be available slightly later than projected.”

District officials posted a four-page summary online on May 6, which had been used to introduce the budget during that day’s meeting. The information was posted about 5 p.m., 30 minutes before a scheduled public hearing on the budget.

This week, officials posted a longer summary — about 35 pages — including budget highlights and financial breakdowns by department.

The district’s detailed budget document is typically about 2,000 pages, showing budgeting for salaries and benefits, department positions, department supplies and travel allotments, among other things.

According to the Georgia Open Records Act, public documents are to be made available “without delay.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X