Decatur BOE – Courtesy tuition, board pay on agenda

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 12, 2014
The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education discusses an agenda item during the April 1, 2014 board meeting. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education discusses an agenda item during the April 1, 2014 board meeting. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education will meet May 13 at 6:30 pm. Here’s a look at some items the School Board will be considering.

– There is a, request for the BOE to, “Implement Courtesy Tuition for all CSD staff working 30-40 hours.” According to note provided with the agenda, there have been questions concerning the policy as the school system works to manage its ever-increasing enrollment. The note says, “The new procedures will also include the statement that if an employee currently meets the requirement for courtesy tuition and their work status changes, giving them less than the 30 hours necessary, they will have the option to have their children attend CSD by paying tuition.” CSD typically spends $10,000 per student.

The agenda items also include a memo from Chief of Staff Caroline Wood. Wood’s memo says of the school system’s 636 permanent employees, 488 live outside of the CSD attendance zones. Of those employees, 99 have taken advantage of the CSD courtesy tuition program, accounting for 150 CSD students, or 3.8 percent of the total number of students enrolled.

Wood’s memo says, “Last year many policies came up for review including the courtesy tuition policy. The policy always stated that only full-time employees would qualify. In the past, full-time employees who went to part-time status were allowed to keep their children enrolled. Therefore, over time the practice became that employees that were ‘benefits eligible’ were allowed to benefit from courtesy tuition. Last year, we reinstated that only full-time employees should be eligible yet if current part-time employees already had their children enrolled, they were grandfathered. Currently, we have four employees that are part-time who have nine children that are grandfathered and enrolled. We have a total of 56 part-time employees however only 31 of these employees live outside the CSD enrollment zones. The hours for these employees range from 3.5 hours per day up to 7.2 hours per day.”

Here is a bar graph included with Wood’s memo (click to enlarge):

TuitionGraph– Also, School Board members will consider paying themselves $550 per member for meeting 11 times between January and June. BOE members have elected not to receive the $50 per meeting stipend for the last few years because of budget cuts during the recession. Superintendent Phyllis Edwards says in a memo attached to this item that, “Since new members have been seated, and the financial climate is better, this item is brought to the Board for consideration.”

– School board members will be asked to approve the system’s $51 million “tentative budget” for Fiscal Year 2015. The noted provided by Finance Director Susan Hurst says, “Included in this budget are 32.15 additional teaching positions to accommodate both anticipated growth and the reopening of Westchester Elementary School. In addition to the teaching positions, a step increase of approximately 2.5% has been included. This budget also reflects an increase in the Employer contribution to the Teachers’ Retirement System and the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act. Funding has also been included for the reopening of Westchester Elementary School, additional portables, Renfroe Middle School iPads and Instructional materials.”

To see a copy of the proposed budget, click this link: CSD FY15 Budget

The May 13 BOE meeting begins at 6:30 pm and will be held at the CSD Central Office / Westchester Auditorium 758 Scott Blvd., Decatur, GA 30030.

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  • Lisa

    Alleviating any stress of increased enrollment should not be borne on the backs of those who work to make CSD great. These families pay tuition – it’s not a free ride. Hopefully the BOE will do the right thing for the professionals who contribute to the education of “our” kids, and continue to make courtesy tuition an option for as many employees as CSD hires. It’s the right thing to do for their employees and our community.

  • Chris Billingsley

    FYI- I believe the school budget ten years ago was less than 25 million. I’m not sure if the proposed budget includes spending for RMS and DHS (borrowing using elementary schools as collateral). Even without the smoke and mirrors, a $51 million school budget, combined with excessive borrowing from the city budget, is a lot of money. Keep this in mind when you read posts about how important para pros in all classrooms, farm to school programs, free tuition programs and $10 million retention ponds are to the taxpayers. It all adds up.

    • Parapros don’t cost $26million

      Methinks it’s a lot more than parapros with their meager minimum wage-ish salaries that is costing an additional $26 million. Isn’t at least a good part of the cost due to the almost doubling of the size of the school population? Wouldn’t it be logical for the operating budget to double if the number of students double?

  • Andy Glasser

    It shouldn’t just be teachers who have kids currently in the system that are grandfathered, it should be anyone who has been working here, in anticipation of courtesy tuition. If the expectation they had was that this was a benefit they would receive as a part of their compensation, it is unfair to snatch if from them after they’ve already committed a significant amount of time. If changes in policy are necessary for financial reasons, it should be enacted going forward. What are we teaching our children if we don’t keep our deals. We should also consider what we may lose if we can’t offer a benefit that helps us get the best teachers, some of whom may be paid part time while contributing much more of their time than required.

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