by: Manuel Bojorquez Updated:
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga.,None - DeKalb County school board members learned
about a $41 million shortfall in school sales tax funds.
"I'm livid and furious beyond belief," said board member Nancy Jester. "I have two filters, kids and taxpayers, and this hurts both of those groups."
The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST, is approved by voters to fund new school construction and improvements.
The shortfall is in the SPLOST II and SPLOST III funds approved in years past, not the SPLOST IV approved last November.
Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson said corrective action must be taken to stop IV from being affected.
The problem is in financing of bonds taken out by the district to start some projects.
The money must be paid back and that is causing a shortfall, coupled with some projects which are currently running over budget.
A proposal to fix the problem means 35 projects could be stopped, or changed.
Fourteen projects would be allowed to go
forward with budget limits and 64 nearing completion would be closed out.
The project to rebuild Chamblee High School would be allowed to go forward, though it is running
$10 million over budget.
Superintendent Atkinson also called for an audit of SPLOST funds and all DeKalb County school finances, but the board chose to not take any action in favor of further discussion.
Board Chair Eugene Walker cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the shortfall. "No money has been misplaced," he said. "Nothing egregious has occurred."