FCS Board Bulletin for April 14, 2023
The Fulton County School Board of Education met on Thursday, April 13, for its regularly scheduled Board meeting at the North Learning Center. Following are highlights of some of the more highly discussed topics, with the full agenda available online. Other topics discussed or approved are available via BoardDocs. Summaries of board actions can be found here and board policy updates can be found here.
Before turning the floor over to Director of Safety and Security Paul Hildreth for a safety update, Superintendent Mike Looney recognized that April is Autism Awareness Month, Child Abuse Prevention Month and Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In his safety report, Mr. Hildreth called for a moment of silence for the victims of The Covenant School shooting in Nashville, TN and emphasized that Fulton County Schools (FCS) continues to learn from tragic events. Hildreth continued by acknowledging FCS is constantly making investments in the safety and security efforts for our district. The extensive listing of security measures, certifications, trainings, and emergency protocols already in place are readily available for the public. Detailed explanations of these efforts are included in our Safety Plans and Drills and Investments in Safety documents, which can be found on the Culture of Safety page of our website.
Dr. Looney ended his report by congratulating Deputy Chief Academic Officer Dr. Gyimah Whitaker on her new role as Superintendent of City Schools of Decatur, which she will assume July 1.
Capital Plan 2027
Chief Information Officer Dr. Emily Bell, Chief Operations Officer Noel Maloof and Chief Financial Officer Marvin Dereef presented a high-level look at the major technology, construction and financial projects featured in Capital Plan 2027. Dr. Bell began the presentation, explaining that Capital Plan 2027 has allowed FCS to provide access, infrastructure, security, and software tools for all students and staff. The 5-year vision for Capital Plan 2027 is inclusive of all students, teachers, and staff.
All technology projects and initiatives will touch all stakeholders at some point in the 5-year plan and allow students to experience access to devices, collaborative platforms, and high-quality content to support student achievement. Dr. Bell then presented an overall look at each of the priority categories and corresponding projects. In each area, the IT staff will continue to sustain work and, in some projects, upgrade or expand Capital Plan 2027 initiatives. The district will also refresh and replace equipment and fulfill annual maintenance and software costs. Capital Plan 2027 technology investments will allow upgrades and improvements for current projects and will facilitate enhanced and new projects that are required to realize the 5-year vision and allow opportunity to address “what’s next” in the rapidly changing technology world.
Mr. Maloof then presented a comprehensive overview of the facilities master plan with projects recommended for sustaining, repurposing, or rebuilding facilities falling into three major categories. The first category is replacement schools and reconfiguration projects. These schools include Middle College at McClarin High School, Conley Hills Elementary School replacement, S. L. Lewis Elementary School, Camp Creek Middle School, and North Springs High School, and K-8 renovations at Palmetto Elementary School. The second category, renovations, is centered around critical infrastructure. The final set of projects are districtwide initiatives centered around safety and security, IT infrastructure needs, sustainability, and other district considerations. He presented details about projects slated for years one and two, with the first wave of projects beginning this summer. He also reviewed projects in current development and others that will have ongoing planning throughout the Capital Plan timeline.
Mr. Dereef concluded the presentation highlighting that the revenue source for the 2027 Capital Plan is funded through SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) funds. With the current budget at $1.2 billion, Mr. Dereef forecasts a slight increase of approximately $25 thousand to these funds due to an increase in interest rates. When the plan was initially established, there was a possibility that the district may need to borrow funds. However, based on the current cash flows, the need for short-term borrowing has been removed. Mr. Dereef concluded his presentation by reminding the Board the Capital Plan 2027 is also supplemented by state capital outlay which is another source of funding. See the full presentation here.
Superintendent’s FY2024 Budget Recommendation
Chief Financial Officer Marvin Dereef and Chief Human Resources Officer Dr. Gonzalo La Cava presented the Superintendent’s General Fund budget recommendation for Fiscal Year 2024. Thanks to Dr. Looney’s leadership, the cooperative and due diligent efforts of leadership at departments and schools with School Governance Council support, FCS has a budget recommendation that aligns with the parameters adopted by the Board in October 2022. In conjunction with these parameters, the district has found ways to seek alternative funding sources, pushing the district forward while maintaining a modified zero-based budgeting process to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of Fulton County Schools.
At the May Board meeting, Mr. Dereef will be recommending the Board adopt a tentative budget that consists of five major funds and the student activity fund. For the General Fund, which is the primary operating fund, the recommended budget for revenue is $1.2 billion with expenditures of $1.3 billion. The district is projecting a fund balance impact of $42.8 million.
Budget sources presented by Mr. Dereef include a .97 percent increase in state revenue and an increase in local revenue predicated on an increase in property tax digest assessment value. For budget expenditures, the largest of which is allocated to instruction followed by maintenance and operation, Mr. Dereef recommends allocating $988 million directly to traditional schools. Though there is no set number yet, the Board has requested an increase in the maintenance and operation budget. When combined with district charter schools, more than 77 percent of the General Fund budget will be distributed to schools. The largest increase in the budget speaks to the district’s main priority, which is safety. Mr. Dereef is recommending a 41.5 percent increase from the FY23 original budget of the safety and security division. The budget recommendation currently assumes a 17.24 millage rate, which is the lowest compared to other school districts in metro area.
Dr. La Cava outlined the compensation proposal within the budget, which is an extension of the long-term and consistent financial commitment by the FCBOE and district leadership to our employees. The proposal is led by a 5.1% salary increase, which includes the state’s increase for all eligible teachers and staff. This increase will be reflected on paychecks in the new fiscal year on July 1, 2023.
He also shared that all eligible teachers and staff will receive a 2% one-time retention payment which will be paid in September for eligible employees who remain employed until the end of their regular contract year. Dr. La Cava stated these recommendations will help the district stay competitive in the metro Atlanta area and help continue recruiting the most talented teachers and staff to FCS. These recommendations, along with hiring and retention incentives, equate to $57.8 million in the FY24 General Fund.
The first budget hearing is on May 9, followed by the second hearing on May 16. The final adoption of FY2024 Budget is scheduled for June 6. See the full presentation here.
New Hires and Promotions
The following individuals were approved for new positions at the April 13 meeting:
- Tris Gilland | Executive Director, Services for Exceptional Children
- Tiambi Walker | Principal, Asa Hilliard Elementary School
Board Community Meetings
Each Fulton County Board of Education member sponsors a monthly meeting open to the public. These meetings provide an opportunity for community members to have direct conversations with their elected Board representative about local issues and concerns. Find your Board member and view the Community Meeting Calendar.
Let’s Talk Schools
Check out our twice-monthly series, Let’s Talk Schools!, hosted by Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney, as he chats about all things FCS. This episode features the district's nationally recognized Fine and Performing Arts programs which offer amazing opportunities to our talented students.
Find out what is going on at Fulton County Schools. Be sure to check out the special FCS News Website for the latest and greatest FCS happenings.
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