Fulton schools is considering cutting millions off its budget next year due to a projected budget shortfall caused in part by an expected decrease in property tax revenue.
Fulton projects the budget for the 2019-2020 school year could have a gap of between $44 million and $56 million. The district presented options that would shave $15.5 million off the budget at the school board’s Jan. 8 non-voting work session. The proposal will next be heard at the board’s Jan. 17 meeting.
The shortfall is partly caused by a measure voters approved last year that caps increases in property assessments at 3 percent annually for the Fulton County School System portion of the tax bill, according to a board presentation. The district is also expecting to pay more in benefits and salaries and changes to state funding, it said.
There will need to be more cuts to close the gap, said board member Julia Bernath, who represents part of Sandy Springs.
“We know we’ve got that funding cliff because of the 3 percent cap. I think it’s important for the public to understand we’re still going to be having to make up a gap,” she said at the meeting, which is archived in video online.
One proposal would cut $6.7 million from the central office budget. Others would reduce each school’s funding by $27 per student, restructure the district’s two alternative schools, and cut local funding for ESOL students, whose first language was something other than English, by $1 million.
The district will still receive federal dollars for the ESOL program Marvin Dereef, said the district deputy chief financial officer at the meeting. Schools don’t often spend total allotment, he said.
Another proposal would increase the remedial class size from 20 students for each teacher to 23, according to the presentation. This would save the district over $1 million, the presentation said.
The district can also use funding from the remaining fund balance to help close the gap, according to the presentation.
Details on any potential staff cuts were not presented, but Dereef said staff could be placed in another department or school.