Atlanta to borrow money to stay open

ATLANTA – The Atlanta Community Schools Board of Education amended its 2012-13 fiscal year budget, originally adopted in June showing a projected $28,027 for June 30, 2013. However, the amended fund balance now shows a total of -$89,723 general fund balance.

In order to keep the school open, the board also approved a state aid operating loan resolution, which was recommended by the finance committee to borrow $300,000 from the Department of Treasury for school operations. Superintendent Don Haskin Jr. said the board is taking a proactive approach that will assist the district to become fiscally responsible.

“We picked up six students last week which really helped our district, it will get better. The $300,000 will knock things out and make some changes,” Haskin said. “We’re hoping the enhancement millage passes, but even if it doesn’t we’ll be in the black.”

Board member John Fazekas supported the budget amendments and resolution to borrow, along with the rest of the board. However, he said nothing is set in stone, but the amended budget will allow the district to begin the loan application process.

“We’re applying for a bridge loan with a 0.2 percent interest rate; it’s essentially a free loan. Our goal is to get back in the black. We really don’t have an alternative,” Haskin said. “We looked at everything three or four times, I can’t believe all of the cuts and trimming we made. It sounds crazy, but I’m ecstatic we’re at -$89,000.”

However, Treasurer Roselyn Ferguson questioned if the district would have problems paying off the loan. Haskin said there wouldn’t be an issue meeting payments with summer tax revenue, but additional borrowing may be needed in the future.

“If we don’t do this, we close in April,” Tarry Deo, former superintendent and finance committee member, said. “By the time we get the money in April we can make some changes, but the committee will need to continue to plan the 2013-14 budget.”

According to Deo, the deficit budget that was amended during Monday’s board meeting consists of changes to the district’s per pupil audit report, using at-risk funds for summer school, eliminating board pay, and will have $40,000 left in Title I funds.

“Another big issue for us is food service. We will be monitoring services accordingly,” Deo said. “The Kellogg grant will also be monitored, but we’re on track with positive after school programs.”

The 2012-13 fiscal year budget amendment shows a total of $2,835,029 in revenue with a $3,006,198 in expenditures and a projected fund balance loss of $89,723 for June 30, 2013.

“We found out we’re (short $89,000), but we’re happy to see this. We actually thought we were $400,000 in the hole,” board member Larry Valentine said. “We’re going to borrow $300,000, but that doesn’t mean we’ll use it all.”

Board member Chad Brown said essentially the loan would be a district investment for the community, making Atlanta Community Schools more appealing as a school of choice.

In other business:

Dave Fisher was named new school board president, with 4-3 vote; board members Laurel Orm, Chad Brown, and Larry Valentine voted against it. Michael Talbot is the new vice president with the same vote. Roselyn Ferguson was named board secretary and Laurel Orm will be treasurer with unanimous support.

* the board will meet every second Monday of the month at 6 p.m.

* winter maintenance contract was renewed with the county road commission.

* the school-wide Lindamood-Bell intervention coordinator/consultant contract was amended and adopted by the board.

* the board accepted former Superintendent Teresa Stauffer’s letter of resignation for contract consulting services and will draft a resolution of termination during its February board meeting.

* Tom Morten, president of the Atlanta Sports Boosters, presented the board with a $3,000 check for athletic transportation.

* the board supports the expansion of the North Star League.

* Atlanta will now have controlled and planned access on Sundays for sports.

Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5687.