Lack of money could temporarily close Atlanta schools - CBS46 News

Lack of money could temporarily close Atlanta schools

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

Atlanta Public Schools and Fulton County Schools are considering taking drastic measures if they don't soon receive tax money from Fulton County. It could include district-wide furloughs that result in schools being temporarily closed. 

The districts aren't currently receiving property tax dollars because the state rejected Fulton County's tax digest. That's about 62 percent of each of the districts' budgets.

The school systems are asking a judge to step in and allow bills to be issued. A hearing is scheduled for Friday.

Superintendents of both school districts told CBS46 News, they are already cutting costs in a number of ways.

"Recently, we have made some decisions on how we have to clamp down on issues of spending which are impacting things like field trips," said Fulton County Schools Superintendent Jeff Rose. "We are not hiring new people, even if we need them, until the new year,"

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said her district also is in a hiring freeze. She said they're putting off paying bills as long as they can.

"So if we don’t owe that bill for 60 days, we’re not paying it for 60 days. If it's 90 days, we won’t be paying it until the 89th day," she said.

Without the tax revenue, school districts can't pay their employees.

Fulton County Schools gets $600 million from Fulton County property taxes. Atlanta Public Schools receives $485 million.

If the judge doesn't rule in their favor Friday, the districts will have to seriously consider furloughs.

"We would run out of funds mid-December, if not earlier," said Rose. "It means our schools shut down. We have to maintain anything relative to our buildings and maintenance and potential safety, but the savings comes from people not working."

Carstarphen said, "We would have to look at district-wide furloughs. We would not be able to run the district in a safe way or a responsible way come around that early December time frame, and it would mean we would have to shut down the district until all of our new revenue came in starting January."

She added, "What you can't do is run half a school system. You can’t have the bus drivers not show or decide not to have food and nutrition workers or pick only certain teachers or paraprofessionals.”

The district leaders are hopeful about the upcoming hearing.

"Friday's critical for us. It will make or break the school systems, I think two of the largest school systems in the metro area," said Carstarphen.

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