DeKalb school officials tabled a much-anticipated vote on the school budget Monday upon news that the district is facing an even deeper deficit.
Instead of a $73-million gap, the district will have to cover an $85-million hole.
The news came from district financial officials who explained that the county's property tax digest will be 9 percent lower than last year - not the expected 6 percent drop.
The board decided against discussing any of the proposed cuts that include cutting middle school athletic programs, shutting down the Fernbank Science Center, expanding class sizes by two students district-wide, reducing employee benefits and cancelling transportation to magnet schools.
The board is tentatively scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20, to finalize the budget.
A major new development Monday was the fate of the Fernbank Science Center.
The center was pulled off the chopping block last month; Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson put Fernbank back on the table Monday. Atkinson suggested $3.2 million in cuts to programs and resources at the center. Fernbank has a $4.7 million operating budget.
The board also discussed deadlines for when the budget needs to be finalized and approved. The spending plan is required by July 1, but could be stretched past that date in an emergency, district officials said.
Atkinson cautioned the board that delaying budget decisions could handicap teachers and other staff who are ultimately let go from getting new positions in other school systems.
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