ATLANTA - The Atlanta Community Schools Board of Education approaches the proposed 2012-13 budget warily with plans to amend the budget throughout the summer months before school officially starts. Many concerned residents addressed the board with issues concerning funding, how grant money is dispersed, and the cuts that inevitably will take place.
According to the proposed budget, Atlanta will have 287 students, with 11 full-time teachers (not including the two special education staff members and band director).
"No answers have been given for big question items that could potentially change the amount of revenue. We're dealing with a very low fund balance, but we're trying to approve a balanced budget that we would like to revise. Right now it's not sufficient for what we need," board member Dave Smith said.
The proposed budget shows an estimated $2,762,559 in total revenue, without any money from incoming transfers from the Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Service District. Expenditures show an estimated $1,542,740 in instructional costs with $218,185 going toward special education. The board also is estimating to pay $75,000 in legal fees. The projected fund balance shows $91,776 which includes audit adjustments for pupil count.
Superintendent Don Haskin Jr. said one of the possible amendments would be to reduce legal fees from $75,000 to $50,000 to put more money toward the fund balance or for additional funding for a counselor, but the school also is having issues with textbooks and other cuts.
Board member Ross Binge said allocating $500 for textbooks is extremely low in comparison to other high costs found in the budget.
"Everything in this line of work is based on projections. Our number one objective is to keep all programs and staff for our students," Haskin said. "Our school success worker is in place, not eliminated, and our athletic director salary has been reduced ... I'm looking to bundle costs for counseling services."
Some of the cuts in the budget include elementary art, guidance counselor, principal, and transportation supervisor. At this time college courses will not be offered, but the board is looking into offering dual enrollment programs, scheduling has not been finalized.
"This is not a realistic budget for what we want to accomplish here at Atlanta Community Schools, but we need to meet state criteria. We're planning on jumping back into it again with amendments," Smith said. "We're just as frustrated as you are, but we're waiting for revenues to design our budget and accomplish something we can live with and give what we want for our students."
According to board President John Fazekas, first amendments to the proposed budget will take place during the July board meeting and will include resolution to makes changes, including adding funding for a school success worker and possible changes to board salaries. At this time Fazekas said the board is not discussing eliminating lawsuits.
"We're trying to push through with what we have," Haskin said.