As Cobb County Schools, Fulton County Schools, and Atlanta Public Schools (APS)work to adopt their tentative 2023-2024 budgets, employee pay raises are at the front of any compensation talks. 

The Cobb County school board presented its tentative budget for 2024 on April 13. The budget includes a  7.5% pay raise for all non-temporary employees. It is noted that Governor Kemp’s $2,000 raise is included in this salary increase The district is expecting increased revenue due to rising property values. Cobb’s tax digest is projected to grow by 13% this year, whereas last year, it was projected to grow by 10.49%. 

During its meeting on the same day, the board passed the motion for tentative approval of the FY2024 budget. This passing will enable the district to advertise the budget and receive questions and comments from the public. Board members thanked Superintendent Chris Ragsdale and Cobb’s Financial Services Division for “making the numbers work.” 

“I just want to echo the sentiments of my colleagues.” said board member Nichelle Davis during the meeting.  “Thank you so much to the Superintendent and Mr. Johnson and your entire team. This has been great. I’m excited about valuing our teachers about the reduction in the millage rate and everything. And I just want to publicly recognize the community. We welcome your input. We hope to have it before May 18, where this budget will then be voted on, so just want to publicly say please reach out to the board with your feedback and your comments. Thank you.”

While Fulton County Schools is considering a budget that could give employees a 7.1% increase for the 2023-2024 school year. The budget also includes a 16.75% increase in employee benefits. 

 In its “expenditures” section, the FY2024 Budget reads, “Compensation and benefits have continued to be a priority for the school district. To be competitive with surrounding districts, the annual budget includes a 5.1% raise plus a one-time 2% bonus which will continue the efforts to provide our teachers with a fair and competitive salary. The raise includes the $2,000 that is in the Governor’s budget. In addition, a retention stipend and a referral incentive will be implemented in FY 2024 at hard-to-staff schools.”

Marvin Dereef, Fulton County’s Chief Financial Officer, presented the FY2024 Budget alongside  Dr. Gonzalo La Cava, the FCS Chief Human Resource Officer, during the board’s April 13th work session. Dr. La Cava discussed competitive wages in detail.

“The information that I know that you want to hear are the recommendations,” said La Cava. “And the first recommendation that I will provide to the school board is that all teachers were recommending that all teachers and staff be provided with a 5.1 salary increase that includes the state’s $2,000. And let me add a little bit more context to that as well. That means it includes the state’s $2,000 This salary increase will include pre-K. The other thing is that the proposed rate will also increase the new teacher’s salary as well. So the new teacher’s salary will go from $53,360 to $56,488, which will continue to keep us very competitive in the metro-Atlanta area as well. The last point I want to make about this 5.1% increase is that every single one of our teachers will receive a step. So the cost the estimated cost for this recommendation will be about $42.5 million from the general fund.”  

The budget is available online for public viewing, and two budget hearings took place on May 9 and May 16.  After that, the board will vote on adopting the tentative budget. The final adoption of the FY2024 budget is scheduled for June 6.

Atlanta Public Schools is anticipating a $2,000 salary increase for teachers. According to the district’s situational review, they will conduct a study on its teacher’s salaries and stipends. Currently, Atlanta Public Schools compensation currently ranks 4th/5th in principal salaries, 3rd/4th in bus driver salaries, 5th in paraprofessional salaries, 6th in parent liaison salaries, 7th in general maintenance salaries, and 6th in a psychologist (support specialist) salaries in comparison to other metro-Atlanta districts.

APS’s Board of Education’s Budget Commission for April 17th  states this in its Situational Review. During the Board of Education Budget Commission Meeting to present the findings, Nicole Lawson, APS’s Chief Human Resources Officer, discussed the situational review during the meeting. 

“As you may already know, our salaries are funded by the state, Quality Basic Education or QBE funding, and APS local and special revenues,” said Lawson during the meeting. “And our current pay scales were created eight years ago as a product of our 2015 compensation study. That study restructured our salaries to address some long-standing pay parity issues amongst our instructional and non instructional staff. Thanks to our board, APS was able to implement a $2,000 plus step increase for all staff going above and beyond the state last year. We anticipate that Governor Kemp will implement the plans announced to increase teacher salaries by an additional $2,000 In FY24. Our proposals today will include provisions for the increase. And given the realities we are facing by both teacher and bus driver shortages, a great resignation and fierce competition by high performing staff, we are grateful to have a board that understands the nature of this competitive market. And the board’s approval of this administration’s recommendation to commission upon our 2023 compensation study, which is being conducted by Management Advisory Group.”

The next APS Budget Commission Meeting will take place on May 18th. 

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