JONESBORO Clayton County schools superintendent Edmond Heatley may be on his way to California, but he’s leaving students a gift — no more activity fee.
Based on fiscal-year-end tallies made in late summer, school officials discovered they had finished far enough under their projected budget to be able to kill the unpopular fee. Repealing the fee was proposed at the school board’s Aug. 27 work session and will probably be approved at its meeting next Monday.
Students who’ve already paid the fee — charged for the first time this year for sports, cheerleading and band — will have their money refunded if the board approves its repeal, said schools spokesman David Waller.
“I would credit Dr. Heatley and Dr. [Deputy Superintendent Stefanie] Phillips,” said Lonita Collier, director of business services. “We’ve had a lot of changes in the district, but they’ve been on top of the finances.”
Collier said the district finished about $15 million ahead of its projections for the 2012 fiscal year thanks to increased state funding because of increased enrollment, along with more money than anticipated from local property taxes. Both increases were due to the district regaining its accreditation, she said.
Another unexpected gift was tax revenue generated by the new international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which opened in May.
Collier couldn’t say exactly how much the new terminal kicked into Clayton’s coffers, but “it was definitely enough that we noticed.”
Staff reductions, unfilled vacant positions and a cap on pay raises also helped considerably, Collier said.
“All of our employees are doing more with less,” said Collier, who praised system employees and the board for tightening their belts.
The next step is to build a contingency fund to provide a cushion against possible future shortfalls, she added.
“This is excellent news, but we’re not where we need to be yet,” Collier said.