The DeKalb County School Board was ready to pass a new budget with deep cuts Monday night. Members thought they had to cover a $73 million budget gap projected for next school year.
But district staff dropped a bomb no one saw coming. They now have to come up with $12 million more in cuts, and it's all because property values keep dropping in DeKalb County.
"I don't know what to say," said Board Chair Eugene Walker.
For weeks, the district struggled to cut $73 million from the 2013 budget. Less money from the state and dwindling property values means schools face big cuts.
"It's getting worse not better, let's be honest about that," said Board Member Nancy Jester.
"We gotta find $12 million more, and that's not going to be fun," said Board Member Donald McChesney.
Arabia Mountain High School students waved signs and protested along Mountain Industrial Boulevard. They hope to save bus service to magnet schools from the budget axe.
"Two hundred of them rely on transportation of the senior class. That does not include other students, sophomores and juniors," Melanie Andrews said.
Even the Fernbank Science Center thought it was in the clear until Monday morning when the district slashed their budget, too. But now with even fewer tax dollars to go around, its future is uncertain.
"You don't want to be cutting science education," said Dr. Larry Wilson, an instructor at the center. "What you want is students to get the same product and this concerns me."
Arabia Mountain High School parent Tanya Smith worried the board is only now beginning to take the budget seriously.
"There are a lot of programs that DeKalb County actually have that they need to revisit and shave from it," Smith said. "It was evident the board did not look at this budget."
The School Board meets on June 20 to come up with even more ways to keep the budget in the black.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:50 PM EDT2013-05-21 16:50:22 GMT
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