A year of belt-tightening and conservative spending has pulled the DeKalb County School System out of a deficit, interim superintendent Ramona Tyson said last week at the superintendent’s annual address.
There will be no shortfall in the 2011-12 budget and no millage increase, Tyson said. The school system entered this school year with an $85 million shortfall, but trimmed $104 million in expenses.
“We’ve been very conservative with our spending and we have an increase in our reserves so that regardless of the decrease of the property tax digest we will not need a millage rate increase,” Tyson said.
New budget committee chairman Dr. Eugene Walker praised Tyson and the finance department for erasing the deficit.
“This is the first year in a while we’re not talking about a deficit on the front end,” Walker said. “That’s due to good financial decisions made at an earlier time. We want to clearly minimize a hit on personnel and programs.”
The cuts that eliminated the shortfall were across the board, said school spokesman Walter Woods, but included trimming down the number of employees in the central office.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in to people the number of major cuts we’ve made at the central office,” Walker said. “We eliminated a number of administrative positions. Our administration now is lean.
“[Tyson] has reorganized and cut a number of key administrative positions,” Walker continued. “The lady has quietly and efficiently made significant changes that have had a positive financial impact on the system.”
Part of the savings have come from the Tyson’s redistricting and consolidation proposals, where eight schools are slated to be closed instead of 14 schools in the original plan. The consolidation plan will save the county an estimated $12 million annually.
The lack of a shortfall in the coming budget also means that furloughs will be eliminated, Tyson said.
Ten- and 11-month employees will get all their furlough days back and 12-month employees will get 11 of 15 furlough days back, Tyson said.