School Board To Consider $13 Million Budget

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The Payson Unified School District Board, at its July 12 meeting, will be asked to approve a 2004-05 budget that Business Manager Bobette Sylvester says is "budgeted to the penny. There are no excesses."

But before the board approves the new budget, there will be the mandatory open hearing in which school district residents have the opportunity to question or make comments about the proposed budget.

In past years, no one has stepped up with concerns.

The 2004-05 budget is $13,382,876 or about one million greater than last year's. The 8.24-percent increase was made possible when voters overwhelmingly approved a budget override on May 18.

In the election, the initiative passed 1,703 to 943 or by about a 2:1 margin.

At the time, PUSD Superintendent Herb Weissenfels said it "was a good thing for the district" and it would prevent "having to do some very difficult things that could potentially have interfered with the education process."

Sylvester agrees, saying if the override had not been approved, the district would have had to make budget cuts that would eventually have shook the foundation of the district.

"Being able to keep the librarians, the middle school nurse and the teachers (16) was huge," she said.

Passage of the override also means that elementary physical education programs that were eliminated last year will be reinstated and there will be funds to maintain the current level of extracurricular activities.

In the budget, extracurricular stipends for coaches and sponsors were increased by $10,000 or 9 percent.

The last time coaches and sponsors received a raise was a 5-percent increase in the 2001-02 school year.

Also, substitute teacher pay jumped to $70 per day from $66.

The new budget also made provisions for three new positions -- a computer technician, maintenance technician and an education counselor.

Teachers received about a 8.2-percent raise in pay and administrators' pay raises averaged 8.5 percent. Weissenfels salary was frozen at $91,190 as he agreed before the budget override election.

At a time when some are clamoring too much money is allocated to sports, school sponsored athletes will suffer a budget cut from $113,621 to $110,018 or about 3.2 percent.

According to Sylvester, the cut could be made because some veteran coaches retired or quit and are being replaced by younger coaches not as far along on the district salary scale.

The biggest deficit Sylvester faced in putting the budget together was insurance costs that rose by about 11 percent over last school year and the loss of about $185,000 in state average daily membership funds.

"Our student count dropped by about 60 kids," she said.

The decline occurred in grades K-8 while the high school count remained steady at about 930.

The increase in insurance costs and the loss of ADM funds could not have been covered by the state allocated budget. It allows for only two percent increases each school year.

The override initiative approved by the voters was for seven years and will cost the average taxpayer who lives in a house valued at $116,000 an annual tax increase of $63.

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