LIVE BLOG: Special Legislative Meeting – Board of Education 6-27-13

Thank you for following our live blog of today’s Special Legislative Meeting for Atlanta Public Schools.

View today’s agenda here

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The live blog will begin at 3:00 p.m.

Superintendent Davis: The budget reflects the removal of an $8M removal from the Beltline and the addition of $6M from the tax digest which offsets the $8M.

The appropriations are currently 593.8M.  This difference of 592 and 593.8 is $1.8M.  It is explained by us taking $750k in personnel reductions that was offset by 750k in charter school payments. There is about $1.3M of additional misc cuts which I will explain in closed session if so desired.

We added 40 additional teachers to reflect a class size as requested by the board to reflect. 24ES, 30MS and 30HS.

You have in front of you a teacher allocation sheet. When all is said and done, column E shows a net increase of 50 teachers to the system and an average class size to the system of approximately 1 student per class.

BOE member Meister asks if the budget payment from the Beltline given to Fulton could have been partially allocated to APS. Davis says that a meeting will take place soon with InvestAtlanta and Beltline reps to discuss that issue.

Meister: While I appreciate the teacher increase, what does this cause with our waiver?

McDaniel: At the board meeting the board recommended a +5, +5, +3 waiver.

Meister: Which trumps which, the waiver or the allocation?  When push comes to shove.

Davis: Your resolution specifies the average class size per school (item is passed out to BOE members).  We will plan to implement no more than 24/30/30 but there may be a class in that school that is higher or lower than the average, but for the school itself, the average will be 24/30/30 depending on the status of the school  We will need the flexibility of the waiver by grade, but we can’t in every grade take it up to the max because then the average for the school would not be at 24/30/30.

Kinnane: The whole purpose was to get class size down to a limit that we thought was acceptable.  So the whole purpose of that and looking at the average was still to get individual class sizes and I understand what you’re saying that we may have cases where they go above, but if we plan to the state size…its the plan.

Davis:  I can’t plan every class to the state max because the average for the school will be at the state max and the resolution says it won’t be, it says it will be at 24/30/30.  If we do, we violate what we said you want. All the waiver is going to do is allow a class or so to be above average, but you’ve capped it at a state max.  The average class per school will be 24/30/30.  I can’t have all high classes and a low average.

Kinnane:  And then if they don’t…

Davis:  If we ha have a lot more classes that go to the max, then we have to say the average class size is above and then we have to add more teachers.  That’s under the assumption that you’re getting a lot more teachers than you anticipate.  Using the staffing allocation sheets, no school should be above 24/30/30.

Kinnane: I think that we are almost there, but in terms of how it will play out….

Davis:  We are certainly not saying that there will not be any class higher than 24/30/30.  If we have to go back and add teachers to where it is crowded to get it back down to that average…

Kinnane: At what point do you think that will happen?

Davis: What we are trying to do is have one on one focused discussions with principals and from that determine, based on historical ramp rates, what the ultimate class should be and staff for it early on.  We are trying to minimize mass movements in October.

3:34pm – Board goes into executive session.  We will pause the blog until board members return.

4:48pm – The board has returned

Motion on the floor to adopt the FY14 budget based on $595M.


The Fiscal Year 2014 General Fund Budget is ready for adoption by the Atlanta Board of Education.


That the Atlanta Board of Education adopt the general fund budget for FY 2014.


The charter governing that Atlanta Independent School System requires that Atlanta Board of Education to hold hearings, adopt, publish and certify annual budgets for the school system.


The FY 2014 general fund expenditure budget is $593,804,521.


Local, state and federal revenue.

Butler-Burks asks if the change to safety and security forces exists in this budget.

Davis: It is in the budget

Meister: I still have reservations and I’m not comfortable with a piece of paper when we approve something as important as this.  I am not comfortable with the +5 waiver.  I am also not comfortable with the uncertainty around the Beltline or the property sales.  I wish we could have gotten further, but I’m uncomfortable at this point.

Kinnane: When we left the meeting Tuesday we talked about additional costs with additional teachers and to me I would like to see more how that all plays out here with the $595M, where that gets us with the reserves fund and in the revenue here we talked a lot about taking out risks we were not comfortable with but are we still including those in the revenues?

Davis: Your revenues have a real estate meeting in it.  The conclusion of your Tuesday meeting was that the additional $1.3M of cuts would address the concern with risk.  We managed away $16M worth of risk this year as a leadership team.  $16M worth of personnel and management.  We did more, actually, than $16M so that the budget will come in better than what was in place.

Kinnane: If there were further risks we were uncomfortable with in the revenue, that would take a further hit on the fund balance.

Davis: We have demonstrated an ability to offset that type of risk (refers again to the $16M). The scale of the risks in the budget are not at that level.

Kinnane:  I do also have a question, and this is where I actually thought we would get before you called the question about the vote Ms. Johnson.  So much of what we’ve spent our time on is addressing the class size issue and I thought we would need to get to that before we approved a budget.

Davis:  The dollars you discussed on Tuesday to address class size are indeed in the budget.  Sequencing (of the discussion/question) will have no impact one way or another.

Kinnane:  We have added some teachers, that’s great, but how it plays out is somewhat in this class size resolution.

McDaniel:  This resolution is not on our agenda for today, we will take it up after the question on the floor.

Meister:  I think discussing this resolution is a part of this vote.  Mine is a legal question, in the last paragraph it says (quotes from resolution, which I do not have on hand).  What are the “certain circumstances” we are referencing here?

Alexis Kirijan: It address the “one over” where you would not add a teacher for one student over the class size number, you would use your waiver in that instance.

Meister would like to add language to resolution to address and clear up that reference.  Expresses discomfort with another term in the resolution.

Kinnane:  I thought the resolution would be how we addressed that (class size) concern.  From a budget standpoint, what we are being asked to approve is a number of teachers and not a planning of teachers.

Motion carries.

Muhammad, Amos, McDaniel, Johnson, English, Johnson: Yes

Meister, Kinnane, Butler-Burks: No

Kinnane asks that class size waiver resolutions are added to today’s agenda.

Motion on the floor.  Motion fails.  Resolutions will not be discussed during today’s meeting.

Fiscal Year 2014 budget for Atlanta Public Schools has passed.

Board asks for talking points.

Davis: Now that we have a budget number, we can put that into talking points with the knowns.  It is hard to give you hard data on the unknowns.

Butler Burks requests a budget book.

Chuck Burbridge, explains that the Board Documents online shows the budget by program and by object.

Next up on the agenda: Other FY14 Atlanta Public Schools Non-General Fund Budgets

Burbridge explains that special revenue funds are self-balancing and must be used for the specific purpose as defined in their contract.

Burbridge:  In total, in our snapshot, in FY14 we have a total of $130M in special revenue funds.  Of course we will not spend $130M and Federal funds have to carry over to the following year.

Burbridge gives board a handout (snapshot) of special revenue for fy14.

Kinnane:  How do you…what looks like an increase, is that actually an increase?  How are you predicting we are going to get more funds?

Burbridge: That ‘s why we included the fy12 which is a complete year.  It is likely that once we close the books on fy13 it is likely we will spend the same in fy14.  It is likely that there will be additional carryover.  This is April data.  What we are really seeing is that if we spent $95M, came close to $95M in fy13, that means we would have a little over 100M in fy14 because part of that 130M is still being spent.

English:  What metrics do we use to say we will have $130M in soft money?

Burbridge: Carryover, spending to date and anticipation that there will be equal new revenue.  For the federal funds, we won’t know what new revenue will be until the beginning of the new federal fiscal year.  This is what makes this challenging.  We spend on a federal fiscal year and we plan on a state fiscal year.  Our snapshots are always a couple months in arrears.

Muhammad brings question to the floor about employees listed in the Race to the Top and other line items.  Asks if having these positions listed in general fund budget would be helpful.

Next Up: Budget for BuildSmart Capital Improvements – SPLOST IV

Short discussion surrounding SPLOST.  This item will come before the BOE again on Monday.

5:38:  Meeting adjourned

Stay tuned – we have interviewed CFO Burbridge and will  post in the next day.


One thought on “LIVE BLOG: Special Legislative Meeting – Board of Education 6-27-13

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  1. Is the presentation for the “Budget for BuildSmart Capital Improvements – SPLOST IV” available online? Thanks!

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