Pine School Struggles With Budget Cuts, Declining Enrollment

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Editor:

Pine Strawberry School has been in an enrollment decline since 1996.

Arizona Public Service estimates since 1997 indicate residential growth as about 40 homes per year. Most of these are summer homes, or households without school age children. Lack of substantial growth, along with state and national economic factors, have resulted in an average decline of 7 percent a year.

In addition to lack of growth, many families have moved for economic reasons, causing a 7 percent decrease in our school budget for the 2002-2003 school year. Pine Strawberry School will have an 8 percent decrease in our school budget for the 2003-2004 school year budget.

Unfortunately, reduced budget capacity causes a reduction in staff and salary freezes for a second year. Budget reduction resulted in the loss of five staff positions for the 2002-2003 school year: two teachers, one cafeteria worker, one classroom aid, one bus driver.

The 2003-2004 school year will result in the loss of five additional staff positions: two teachers, one bus driver, one custodian, and one office/duty aide.

Talented staff have allowed Pine Strawberry School to continue providing all programs for students, even given a limited budget capacity and increasing health costs, facility costs, and technology costs. There will be a restructuring and some loss of student programs for next year, however.

The District cannot afford to continue with a part-time physical education teacher and still maintain an effective core curriculum staff. Teachers in grades PreK-5 will teach P.E. using the P.L.A.Y. program, which meets all of the state standards for physical education. Junior high teachers are already planning an intramural program to incorporate state standards for grades 6-8, which they will also teach.

The Pine Strawberry computer and music programs will continue with the following changes: Ms. Mason will teach music/ band and Jr. High computer classes. Mrs. Groseclose will be the librarian half time and teach K-5 computer classes. Mrs. Shelley Randall will teach all Jr. High math classes. While students will continue to have all specialty programs, the number of hours participating in specialty programs could be less. The staff is currently working on scheduling for the 2003-2004 school year.

Core curriculum instructional hours in math, reading and writing will not change. Staff is committed to providing academic, social and behavioral success for all children in our community. Thanks to the hard work of the instructional staff, we continue to teach to state standards effectively, as indicated by Pine Strawberry School's SAT 9 and AIMS test scores which have continued to be the highest in Gila County, and considerably above state and national averages.

If you have any questions concerning the above, please give me a call at 476-3283.

Kathe Ketchem, Superintendent

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