Teachers will get a pay raise and support staff a one time bonus with passage of the new school budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.
The DeKalb County Board of Education met briefly Monday night and adopted the spending plan which will now be presented to the county commission’s budget committee for approval.
Director of Schools Patrick Cripps calls this a fair budget with no proposed local property tax increase for schools and not a lot of extras.
Although the school system is bracing for a cut in federal funding by 18% or $150,000 the state is sending about one million dollars more Basic Education Program (BEP) funds next year totaling $15,962,000.
In addition to pay raises and the scheduled step increases , the school system plans to spend more money on technology to bring one to one computer devices into the 6th to 8th grade classrooms. “The state sent us $144,000 this year for teacher raises. That comes to about $600 per teacher. We have added a $250 one time bonus for non certified staff. We put in technology for grades 6-8 for one to one devices about $200,000," Director Cripps told WJLE.
One to one computers are electronic devices that allow students to access the Internet, digital course materials and digital textbooks. By providing students their own notebook computer or tablet, schools make it possible for students to find information instantly to produce rich multimedia content.
“There is going to be a demand for more technology in the schools. The state is sending money for us to put more money for technology and they are tracking it to make sure the funds are going toward technology,” said Director Cripps.
“The state is going to all testing online. At the high school it will be online next year with 3-8 grades the following year. These one to one devices are needed not only for testing but because of the way kids are learning and the way teachers are presenting the material to the kids today. It is totally different from the way that we learned and what the state is asking from our kids today. They are not being taught or expected to learn like we did. They (state) wants them to gather information, not just to give an answer, but a thought process on how they are arriving at an answer and how they are to use that in the real world,” Director Cripps continued.
The new budget also includes $20,000 for a school building feasibility study. “We put in $20,000 for an architect to come in and do a study. It is my hope that with an architect study we will be able to get a break down of different school sizes (options) and what it would cost to build those schools,” he said.
The general purpose school budget for 2017-18 totals just over $22 million dollars. Anticipated revenues are budgeted at $ 20.7 million. More than $1.2 million of the school's reserves may be needed to balance the budget on paper but that is less than last year’s projection. “We are trying to go less and less into our reserves and we have done that this year,” said Director Cripps.