ATLANTA - Atlanta Public Schools is quickly running out of money. And there’s concern the district won’t be able to pay teachers in full and keep them in the classroom.
School leaders have asked the courts to intervene and allow the district to collect property taxes immediately. This all started with the Fulton County Commission rolling back property tax assessments to 2016 levels, after residents complained their property taxes would spike.
APS, like other school districts, depends on local tax collections to pay their bills. In fact, more than 60 percent of the general fund revenue comes from that tax digest.
Now, four months into its fiscal year, APS said it’s received nothing. And just last week, the state department of revenue rejected Fulton County’s 2017 tax digest, further delaying tax collection for 15 cities and two school districts.
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Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen is hopeful the courts will provide relief but a contingency plan could mean furlough days for employees and a pay cut for teachers.
The Fulton County School Superintendent said no matter how he or his CEO do the math, things don't look good. Jeff Rose said unless something happens fast to turn the county tax stream back on, they need to have a serious conversation about furloughs and even shutting down schools.
"It's grown into a worst case scenario for sure," Fulton County Superintendent Jeff Rose said. "We're gonna have to have a conversation about how and when we shut down schools."
Rose says the district is basically staring down the barrel of a gun with its main source of income cut off. As with APS, property taxes make up more than 60 percent of the district's budge.
"This will be a burden, not just for kids, but for families in general, as well as our staff. It's a significant problem," Rose said. "Regardless of the political decision that was made, it has severe implications for our kids and our teachers and our overall community.”
The district is now surviving off savings and some state funding, but say it costs $85 million a month to run.
“We will not have cashflow to make it into December, let alone paying our people into December,” Rose said.
Both districts will head to court Friday to ask a judge to issue a temporary collection order.
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