When DCSS announced proposed budget and personnel changes during the fall, some in the community felt it was due to a history of mismanagement. Legitimate questions were raised about central office staffing levels and setting budgetary priorities. Programs and services that many in the community had become accustomed to were significantly reduced or eliminated. At last count, DCSS was in the process of reducing its budget by about 31 million dollars, close to 3% of the overall budget.
Fast forward a few months and it seems everyday in the news, you hear or read about school systems making cuts. In the 2/18 AJC, Cobb County announced it will need to cut about 76 million dollars from its budget, close to 8%. As one looks at some of the numbers provided, it appears many are close to those for DCSS.
Was DCSS a leader in addressing this issue sooner rather than later? There was a LOT of publicity involved when DCSS made its announcements. It seems citizens now expect to hear of cuts in school system budgets, making this less a major news item. At the same time, is there more 'fat' that can be cut from our budget without compromising the delivery of services, specifically instruction? Yes, we've blogged about this many times before but does seeing other school systems face the same challenges make you feel better about DCSS addressing them early?
Following is the article about Cobb County School System from the 2/18 AJC.
Best estimate’ for schools may be $76 million deficit
By ALEXIS STEVENS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Cobb County school officials are in the early stages of planning next year’s budget. Already, the outlook isn’t good.
The district could face a $76 million deficit, said Mike Addison, the school district’s chief financial officer.
“It’s just our best estimate,” said Addison. “There’s no doubt that we’re going to have a shortfall. But how big is it going to be?”
The bulk of the shortfall is due to an anticipated decline in county property values, which means less tax money collected. The school system expects to lose at least $34 million in property tax revenue.
How big is the budget?
The current year’s budget is $940 million, with 90 percent going to personnel costs in the state’s second largest school district.
Is there reserve money?
Yes, just over $101 million. Dipping into this would be a last resort, Addison said.
What about SPLOST?
In September, voters approved the third straight special sales tax to fund capital improvements. Since SPLOST
is tied to spending, it may not pull in the estimated $856 million. That money is separate from the general budget.
What could happen?
The state education department has allowed class sizes to increase slightly, meaning fewer teachers. But Cobb officials say it’s too soon to know what that will mean.
Superintendent Fred Sanderson has asked cabinet members to come up with cost-cutting ideas. Today, leaders will have the first of many budget meetings.
“We’re lean already, he said. “It’s very serious. But we’ll work diligently to make it work.”
• Students: 106,673
• Total employees: 15,663
• Classroom teachers: 8,532
Grade Ga. Max Cobb ratio
K 20 18:1*
1st-3rd 21 19:1
4th 28 26:1
5th 28 26:1
6th-8th 28 22.5:1
9th-12th 28 25:1
* plus 1 parapro per classroom
Source: Georgia Department of Education