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Atlanta schools hit with $12 million budget shortfall

The recent Fulton County property tax freeze has resulted in a $12-million budget shortfall in Atlanta Public Schools.

Dr. Meria Carstarphen, APS superintendent IMAGE 11ALIVE

The recent Fulton County property tax freeze has resulted in a $12-million budget shortfall in Atlanta Public Schools.

Teachers and staff also won’t be receiving any raises for the time being, APS Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen said on Wednesday. Two furlough days will also be unpaid, she said.

“These budget adjustments only came within the last month,” Carstarphen said. “Our backs were really up against the wall, with the new school year right around the corner.”

Carstarphen said more budget cuts could reach as high as $18 million.

Last month, Fulton County commissioners unanimously voted to freeze property assessments at 2016 rates.

11Alive was the first media outlet to report the dramatic increases in early May. Assessments rose more than 20% for half of Fulton County homeowners, in some cases they rose 100-300%.

FULL COVERAGE | Fulton tax revolt

“Originally we were projecting a 6 percent budget increase, so we also had to put a lot of new programs on the back burner,” Carstarphen said. “This hasn’t put a damper on our back to school efforts, but I have made a commitment to our staff that I’ll make this up to them and make this situation right.”

Because the taxes will be paid later than usual, the schools won’t get the money they need on time, meaning they’ll have to take out a loan to pay staff. That also means the system will have to pay interest on the loan.

Carstarphen said a lot of program were cut before they even started, including an innovative, after-school tutoring program for students in struggling schools. Instead of making the kids stay after school for help, and miss their bus home, teachers would go into the neighborhoods and community centers to tutor them.

Here is Carstarphen's entire media briefing, which was carried live on our Facebook page:

In her briefing, Carstarphen also said:

  • Aramark has been chosen as APS’ new food vendor.
  • APS has launched a new mobile app, which can be found here.
  • APS is extending its school day on Monday, Aug. 21, the day of the total solar eclipse, and will be providing the proper eye ware to its students.

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