Education

DeKalb School Board Approves Budget, Reduces Unpaid Days For Staff

The plan includes five unpaid days for staff members. That’s a reduction from nine unpaid days, which the DeKalb school district proposed in an earlier budget draft Monday.
The plan includes five unpaid days for staff members. That’s a reduction from nine unpaid days, which the DeKalb school district proposed in an earlier budget draft Monday.
Credit Nick Nesmith / WABE

The DeKalb County school board approved a budget of just over $1 billion for fiscal year 2020 on Friday.

The plan includes five unpaid days for staff members. That’s a reduction from nine unpaid days, which the district proposed in an earlier budget draft Monday. The board deferred a vote on the plan, asking district officials to review the numbers to see if they could trim the number of unpaid days.

“Per the board’s direction on Monday, our team took another look at our budget to find additional opportunities to reduce our expenses for the coming school year while maintaining and minimizing the impact on our teachers and our student programs,” said DeKalb Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris.

Watson-Harris said teachers will probably only have to take one unpaid day because the district is able to use some federal funds to pay them to attend four days of professional learning.

Joyce Morley was the only board member to vote “no” on the budget. She said the district has spent too much in the past and teachers are paying the price.

“The morale is so low in this district,” she said. “And every time we try to pick it up, it goes back down again. These people are not stepchildren, they’re dedicated educators. They all work hard.”

But other board members thanked administrators and Watson-Harris for working to reduce the number of unpaid days for staff.

“This could’ve played out another way,” said Vickie Turner. “And that is people would be laid off and in an unemployment line with uncertainty about supplemental pay coming from the government.”

The district says it lost about $54 million in revenue due this year to COVID-19. Still, it managed to maintain a general fund balance of $100 million.

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