Last Tuesday, DeKalb County Chief School Financial Officer Anthony Cooper provided the budget review hearing for the school board and community.
Cooper said this was the first of two budget hearings of the year that are required by state law before the board approves the budget.
“It’s early in the process, and the budget is due in Montgomery by September 15th,” Cooper said.
The proposed annual budget is developed for a fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 and ending Sept. 30.
The next budget will be reviewed at the September board meeting.
Cooper said the bigger picture right now is they have federal, state and local revenue sources and those are our three primary sources.
“At this time in the process the state [budget] is set,” he said
According to Cooper, the state budget is built around the state foundation program, that the legislator passes in the spring of this year.
“Our foundation program budget is about $54 million,” he said.
The overall budget will roughly be 94 million to 95 million
“Again, I'm not finished with it. It will be done in about two more weeks,” Cooper said
He said he would concentrate on the state budget because he knows what they have there, and has that part of the budget finish.
He said they know where certified and classified units are all set right now.
“There might be a few minor adjustments when some other payroll money comes in, whether it’s a little high or a little lower than we expect,” said Cooper.
He said as far as personnel is concerned, it’s mostly set.
“We kind of know where everybody goes, so we are just filling in around that,” Cooper said.
As previously stated, the budget might be a little higher than the 94 million this year.
“It was 92.6 last year, and just in the Foundation Program you consider the 4 percent raise, it was up 2 million from last year so that easily puts it at 94.6,” said Cooper.
According to Cooper, it looks like overall, with the federal programs that have come in so far, the status quo is somewhat even.
“There’s a few high and a few a little lower,” he said.
Cooper said when he has the second hearing for that week, he will be a lot closer to the exact figure.
In the budget meeting, Cooper shared the following figures he thought the audience might want to be aware of:
He said the ADM which is the enrollments that count from the school year of two years ago that ended on May 20 of 2018 seen a loss of 101 students.
“Our budget went down for teacher units, remember this is state level, 4.47 units, so we lost 4.47 units,” Cooper said.
According to Cooper, those teacher unit stats are also broken down by schools.
“Some schools lost a little, and some schools gain a little that just gives you an overview,” he said.
He said one of the good things about the budget this year is the state OCE, that “other current expenses” saw an increase.
“Even though it’s based off the teacher units you earn, it’s the miscellaneous extra money that helps fund a lot of your custodians, school secretaries, CNP workers, benefits, substitutes, that increased per unit from 17,950 to 19,005,” said Cooper.
However, he said the bad news of that is when you lose teachers through retirement or resignations since that OCE is locked into it, you may not be able to hire a teacher back in that school.
Cooper said in short, when you lose 4.47 teacher units, it's a loss of nearly 85,000 in state OCE.
The county school should have right at 668 certified employees this year and 411 classifieds, Cooper said.
“On the economy, our ETF which is our education trust fund recipes last year was up 6.74 percent,” he said.
Cooper said he’s been with the county for 26 years and “if that’s not the highest [ETF] it’s ever been, its close.”
“Overall it’s a good budget, the economy is good, and there’s a 4 percent raise in there,” he said.
He said the budget hearing is about being transparent and is meant to allow the community to ask questions and state concerns.
The board and superintendent thanked Cooper on his work and for his efforts in getting the budget together.
Superintendent Jason Barnett touched on the loss of 4.47 teacher units.
“Last year, if you look across the district, we lost 4.47 of our Foundation Program unit teachers; you get your units 20 days after Labor Day,” he said.
According to Barnett, as of right now the county schools are moving in a positive direction.
“Some of our schools that have had a decrease in enrollment like Ider [High School] and Valley Head [High School] which have seen a significant decrease in the last few years are actually up,” he said.
Barnett said like Cooper mention, “we gained some and lost some, but across the district, for this year, our enrollment is up.”
“I was pleased to see we are moving in a positive direction. We are starting to level out,” he said.