The Atlanta Board of Education approved the final version of Atlanta Public School’s (APS) FY2024 Budget in a monthly board meeting on June 5. The start of the meeting included a work session with a presentation of the final recommendation of the budget by Dr. Lisa Bracken, APS’s Cheif Financial Officer.
Bracken recognized several updates to the budget in her presentation – Including a $50,000 safety and security grant from the state (with additional revenue from other state grants) and an increase of $825,000 to school budgets for the school improvement grant.
“While we kept the percentage increase the same in our assumptions for local revenue, we updated the FY23 baseline to reflect the actual collections so far this year. This increased the local revenue assumptions by $7.8 million. And as a reminder, we’ll likely not have the actual local digest from the Tax Commissioner’s offices of DeKalb and Fulton County until at least another month from now. We’re realistic with our local revenue projections, but we are being more aggressive than we have as the pattern will reflect in recent years for our assumptions and local revenue collections.” said Bracken during the session.
Bracken and the finance division then identified $850,000 within ESSER carryover to continue support of HVAC – which will free up additional general funds to help supplement the state-provided safety and security grant funding for schools and buildings not receiving the state grant. They are also establishing a review protocol for the cabinet to prioritize new revenue or grant carryovers realized within the year towards initiatives not funded by the initial budget cycle.
“We’ve heard the emphasis on safety and security from the community and commit to a thorough review process that addresses needs in a way that is fiscally sustainable as additional revenue is made available,” said Bracken.
The Budget updates also included lists of compensation and benefits on the June 2023 Financial Update.
“Overall, we’re requesting the board to approve a budget of $1.69 billion which includes the consolidated general fund at $1.1 billion, special revenue at $212 million, SPLOST at $311 million, nutrition at $35 million, and student activity funds at $4.5 million,” said Bracken. “We’re also asking the board as a part of this budget adoption to commit fund balance for some initiatives in the current year for which budget is available. But services are unlikely to be rendered prior to the close of the fiscal year. This includes $1.5 million for the city of Atlanta Early Learning Partnership and $1 million for nutrition vans and refrigerator trucks. While today’s presentation was relatively concise, I’d like to direct the audience to the wealth of information that’s available on the APS Budget website from our previous budget commission materials, regional meetings, board meetings, budget books, budget primers, and all other materials.”
During the presentation, board members expressed their support for the compensation increases and asked to be more involved in the development process.
“I am very supportive of the compensation increases of spending more for important initiatives like nutrition being brought in house, and then of course for specialists and other critical staff increase in those costs and identifying areas of need, like the language immersion, of oral language,” said board member Katie Howard during the session. “Wanting to see though as we move forward, and I appreciate you already talking about how we do the budget next school year and preparing for that – a laying out in the beginning of a clear strategy aligned with our goals and taking into consideration or guardrails.”
After the presentation concluded and the executive session commenced, the meeting continued later in the day with a monthly budget adjustment and the final adoption of the FY2024 budget. The content section of the meeting agenda around the adoption reads as follows:
Approve the FY2024 final budget with the total appropriation amounts as presented:
- General Fund: $1,128,354,750;
- Special Revenue Fund: $212,082,324;
- SPLOST: $311,110,520;
- Nutrition Fund: $35,011,463; and
- Student Activity Fund: $4,500,000
The total appropriations for all funds presented is $1,691,059,056.
*Committing unspent FY2023 dollars: Fund balance reported as “committed” can only be used for a specific purpose and can only be removed or changed by formal action of the Board. For FY2024, this includes up to $1,500,000 for the City of Atlanta Early Learning Partnership; up to $1,050,000 for Nutrition Vans/ Refrigerated Trucks.”
The board members then discussed how to move forward with the adoption process.
“I know a lot of questions that I’ve received was just in terms of understanding where this the $1.6 billion budget comes from,” said Board Chair Eshe P. Collins during the meeting. And once you break it down, what I think the public needs to understand is that there are a multitude of things that goes into the business of Education, in terms of all the dollars going to the classroom, and so I appreciate the breakdown but look forward to more opportunity and for this flushing out to align with our Soft G.”
Board members Cynthia Brisco Brown and Erika Mitchell moved the motion to approve the final adoption of the budget. It passed by a 7-2 vote.