Proposed budget limits flexibility of funds

Abby Peters, Comment section editor

Any Grady high school student can attest to the fact that the bathrooms are poorly maintained, whether it be a lack of paper towels or toilet paper, a broken stall lock, a clogged toilet or a missing bathroom sink. Although this problem is widely recognized, little can be done given Grady’s annual operating budget.

For the 2019-2020 school year, the proposed budget for the general operations of the school is reflected at $11,792,362. This is approximately $400,000 more than Grady’s operating budget for this school year, but Grady is also projected to have 85 more students next year. The distribution of this money is set by Atlanta Public Schools with only some flexibility given to Grady principal Dr. Betsy Bockman. In APS’s plan, the most money ($9 million) is allocated to “Instruction”, and the least amount is spent on “Instructional Staff Training”, which receives no money at all. Money given to “Maintenance and Operations” of Grady is $427,341.

Grady has, however, granted $33 million to complete their planned renovation on the end of the C wing and into the space the instructional suits currently are. Of this money, one million has already been spend on the updates to the Grady auditorium. APS has been particularly strict about Grady staying on budget, despite the fact that the new Howard middle school went over budget with few obvious repercussions. Budgeting also did not seem to be a problem when building the new $100 million North Atlanta high school.

The new renovation to Grady will add an additional 18 classroom across its four floors. This, however, will not be enough to fit the projected class size of 450 coming from the new Howard Middle. The renovation cannot be built bigger because pushing out farther into the instructional suites and dirt lot would disrupt water and sewage lines under them, creating another problem the school doesn’t have the money to fix.

The renovation will also include an expansion to the media center and the removal of the interactive lab and Mr. Barnes’s office to expand the cafeteria.

Grady is allowed to put whatever money is left over from the renovation into other projects. This might include fixing the sewer issue under music hall, fixing the railing and stairway between the Black Box Theater and parking lot, creating a bus lane, increasing the capacity of the main theater, fully renovating bathrooms throughout the whole building, adding public restrooms to the Black Box Theater, and adding even more additional classrooms to make room for all the kids coming over from Howard.

APS has recently cut two projects totaling 17.5 million, but has yet to increase the budget for the renovation. They have, however, proposed the idea of building a new 31 million dollar school of the arts instead of fixing previously occurring problems.