The Atlanta Board of Education approved the $854 million General Fund Budget for the Atlanta Public Schools 2019-2020 school year (Fiscal Year 2020) on Monday evening, during its monthly legislative meeting. Highlights of the spending plan include:
· $281 million to continue the District’s commitment to increase equity throughout the system through developing school budgets using the Student Success Funding formula, which bases school funding on student attributes such as poverty, English language learners, Early Intervention Programs and Remedial Education Programs.
· $46.9 million in support of investments in quality early childhood education, leadership development, whole-child development (including the arts, athletics and behavior supports), and investments in pre-K through third grade to ensure all students are reading by the end of third grade.
· More than $10.2 million to provide targeted academic and wraparound support for targeted-tier schools, as well as schools transitioning from targeted-tier to intensive-tier, due to demonstrated gains on the state accountability metric.
· $12 million in salary raises for all employees and keeps in alignment our pay scales and initiatives as set forth in the pay parity plan from 2015.
· Non-teacher pay raises, which include a step and a 1% increase for pay grades 111-124 (total 2.45%), a step only for pay grades 125-140 (total 1.2%), and a $700 one-time payment for eligible employees who are off-step.
· Pay parity adjustments that include increasing school resource officer holidays equivalent to other employees, adjusting the JROTC instructor work schedule and supporting some position re-classifications.
· The FY2020 budget continues to support site-based autonomy and flexibility by pushing an additional $3.5m into schools for textbook adoptions, including $23.7m of EIP/REP in SSF formula, allowing additional flexibility with turnaround funds, pushing $2.7m of stipends from CLL to school budgets, and continuing to invest $12.4 in signature programs.
Additionally, raises for employees on the teacher pay scale equal an average of $2,000 (3.3%) per teacher and include a $1,000 one-time payment for eligible employees who are off-step. The FY2020 state budget did not provide funding equivalent to what would be a $3,000 raise for teachers in APS, largely due to the fact that the District employs more teachers and other crucial wrap-around staff than is funded through the state funding formula, and raises for all these employees must be 100% paid for from local funds.
Also, the amount APS and other large districts receive from the state is reduced due to the “local fair share” funding formula the state uses. The District intends to provide the full $3,000 pay raise to teachers if it’s able to secure the additional revenue in the coming months, and would pay that retroactively to the start of the school year.
“APS’ FY2020 budget continues our dedication to putting our students and schools first and to being fully transparent with the community about our funding priorities,” APS Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen said. “We believe this budget is fair and balanced and provides equity for all of our students. I want to thank the Board of Education, our Budget Commission members, and our Chief Financial Officer, Lisa Bracken, and her team for their hard work on the budget. I also want to thank our APS staff and the community for their input and engagement during our budget-building process.
“Although the budget has been approved,” Dr. Carstarphen said, “we continue to urge the City of Atlanta to honor the entire Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) involving the TADs (Tax Allocation Districts), starting with the $10 million settlement payment due back in January 2019. As we receive confirmation that the city has honored the IGA, it is our plan to fully fund the teacher raises.”
Monday’s meeting brings to a close a school year in which the District and several of its employees achieved a number of significant achievements and accolades:
· Tracey Pendley, fourth grade teacher at Burgess-Peterson Academy and most recent winner of the district’s Excellence in Teaching Award, was named the 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year by State School Superintendent Richard Woods. It is the first time in nearly four decades that an APS educator has earned this honor.
· Kandice Mitchell, the district’s Assistant Director of Athletics, was named State of Georgia Athletic Director of the Year by the Georgia Athletic Director’s Association. Kandice’s commitment to our student athletes, their families and this district is commendable. Kandice is a proud graduate of Benjamin E. Mays High School. She makes history as the first African-American woman selected for this prestigious honor. Along with Tracey Pendley, Kandice received a well-earned Proclamation from the Atlanta City Council, Monday afternoon.
· Terriyln Rivers-Cannon, who works with students and families at Washington High and Fickett Elementary School, was named this year’s National School Social Worker of the Year by the School Social Workers Association of America.
· The District had two honorees this year for Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education. Both Dr. Andrew Lovett, principal of Benteen Elementary School, and Ashleigh Spatz, music teacher at Burgess-Peterson Academy, were surprised last month with $7,500 Teach On Project awards. The award includes $3,500 toward a school project of the winner’s choice, $1,500 for professional development and a $2,500 personal stipend. Dr. Lovett plans to use his award to fund a Building Brilliant Biliterate Readers project at Benteen. Ms. Spatz will use her grant to create the Composing for Community project at Burgess-Peterson.
In addition to these highlights, APS achieved a number of benchmarks and honors in improving human resources over this past school year, which makes our system stronger and working conditions better. Here are just a few:
· APS began the 2018-2019 school year with all principal positions filled and only seven teaching vacancies. This is the fifth consecutive year where APS had fewer than ten teacher vacancies on Day One.
· APS has expanded training for principals on hiring for teacher quality and increased principal satisfaction with quality of applicants from 52% in the first year of the survey in 2016 to 71% in 2019.
· APS has reached a record-high ability to provide a substitute when teachers are absent, increasing the substitute fill rate from 88% in 2014 to 98% in 2018.
· The Georgia Association of School Personnel Administrators (GASPA) presented APS with a Platinum award for recruitment process/materials, a Gold award for strategic partnerships and retention practices and a Best in Class award for employee handbooks.
Monday evening’s vote by the Board brings to a close a budget-building process which began in September of last year and included input and feedback from the public, including Budget Commission Meetings, Regional Public Meetings and Public Budget Hearings. The 2019-2020 school year begins Monday, August 12.