If current trends continue, the Fulton City School District faces a $5 million gap between the money it will get in aid and taxes and the amount it will need to spend.
A consultant’s report tackled this question: Can that gap be made up by changes in the district’s operations — its busing and buildings? The simple answer: Not a chance. (See the slides from the consultant’s presentation, here.)
Consultant Dan Porter, a former schools superintendent, found that changing bus routes would save minuscule amounts of money while disrupting families. He also found that changing buildings — adding 6th grade to the Junior High, for instance, or using two current elementary schools for grades pre-K through 2 and the remaining two for grades 3 through 6 — would save perhaps a salary or two but would force building projects to reconfigure the buildings.
And closing a building would require the district to spend millions to add on to other buildings.
The district could operate more efficiently, Porter concluded. “Is that money significant? Not so much.”
The problem, however, is highlighted by the growing gap between what the state provides schools for education and the rising costs of nearly everything.
“Will the status quo work?” asked Porter. “Not successfully.”
Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch indicated the report serves as a reality check for administrators and the Board of Education as they try to figure out how to cope with what appears to be a rising built-in deficit.
“It’s for us to frame the issues in front of us and to educate ourselves as to the implications of, ‘Can we keep doing what we’re doing?'” said Lynch.
“The last thing we want to do is take away educational opportunities,” he said. “We’re a people business and more than three-quarters of our money goes to our instructional program.”