Review of the Atlanta Public School FY15 Special Revenue Fund Budget

As noted in yesterday’s post, the Budget Commission spent some time reviewing the FY15 Special Revenue Fund (SRF) Budget. The following chart presents the major sources of funding. As you can see, the most significant sources are federal funds and the reductions are having a significant impact on the total funds available in the SRF.

FY15 SRF by Source 051614

The following is a brief review of the changes that are shown in the chart above:

  • The Race to the Top program, which was a component of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus program is winding down and will end September 30th. The balance of funds for FY15 is essentially a carryover from prior years.
  • Title I-A & G, which are designated for improving academic achievement is decreasing by $3.8 million. Approximately $427 thousand is the result of decreases in funding for the federal program and the balance is related to lower carry forward amount from previous years.
  • Title II-A-Improving Teacher Quality decreases are almost in their entirety the result of decreases in funding for the federal program.
  • Title VI-B IDEA funding for the Exceptional Children’s program has increased primarily as a result of an increase in students eligible for federal funding. This increase in student eligibility has also increased the funding requirements in the General Fund.
  • Large Private Grants greater than $250 thousand have decreased by $861 thousand – the primary factors are a decrease of $955 thousand in the Gates Teacher Effectiveness Accelerator program that is coming to an end and a decrease of $523 thousand in the GE Math and Science program. These decreases are offset by a $614 thousand increase in the NITV/Bellsouth Clearwire program.

Below is a summary that attempts to categorize the many accounts by the major district functions (see Note at bottom of post).

FY15 SRF by Function 051614

  • Exceptional Children – There is a $2.2 million increase in Title VI funding for the Exceptional Children’s Program. This increase, along with the General Fund increase of $4.2 million amounts to a $6.4 million or 12% increase over FY14. As noted above, this increase is due to increases in qualifying children.
  • Remedial Instruction – The Title I and Title IV-B funds, which are designated for school improvement and for remedial support for economically disadvantaged children, is decreasing by $4.2 million primarily as the result of the balance is related to lower carry forward amount from previous years. The recent announcement of a reduction of approximately 119 teachers is specifically the result of this decrease in funding (see more on this here).
  • Professional Development – Overall, professional development funding is decreasing by $1.9 million and is primarily the result of the Gates Teacher Effectiveness Accelerator Program ending and a reduction in funding for the Federal Title II-A Improving Teacher Quality Program. It is important to note that the vast majority of spending on Professional Development is funded by the SRF and that no additional provisions were made in the General Fund budget for this activity.
  • Reform Programs – The decrease of $5.7 million is almost entirely related to the ending of the Race to the Top program. In addition, the Small Learning Communities grant has ended resulting in a $928 thousand decrease.
  • Charter Schools – The increase in charter schools spending is primarily composed of Federal/State grants that the district earns for starting or implementing charter school formation. This category also includes the 2% administrative fee that charged to charter schools. In addition, there are certain expenditures that are fully reimbursed by the charter schools for one-time services (i.e. temporary bus services to Drew Charter School students while it transitions to a new facility).

In summary, the total reduction in the SRF is related to certain Federal programs ending or a general reduction in the Federal programs. I think it is also fair to say that the federal school reform program funding is at its end and I am not aware of any new direct federal reform programs on the horizon. The one overall concern I have is that the Professional Development dollars have decreased, but there has been no provision to make up the difference in the General Fund. I will assume that the administration has considered this and determined that the decreased level of funding is adequate.

Note – The allocation of the program cost by function is based on my interpretation of the descriptions for the program. The administration has not reviewed my categorization and they may interpret it differently than I do. Additionally, certain grants are accounted for in the SRF, but are also incorporated into the General Fund. These amounts have been previously reviewed as part of the General Fund analysis.

Robert Stockwell is the financial watchdog for APS and posts at Financial Deconstruction

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