What Happened To $300,000? Teachers Ask

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The question on most spectators' minds as they left the Payson school board meeting Monday evening was "What happened to the other $300,000?"

The question arose after Payson Unified School District Associate Superintendent for Business Services Bobette Sylvester explained to the audience that teacher raises next year could be from 3.8 to 6.5 percent of current salaries. In all, the additional wages would cost the district $200,000, she said.

The district was supposed to receive an estimated $500,000 from a state budget increase signed into law two weeks ago by Gov. Janet Napolitano. The audience did some quick math and wondered about the $300,000 difference.

The morning after the meeting, Superintendent Sue Myers answered the query, saying the district was not receiving the $500,000 for raises originally anticipated.

"Bobette went on the Arizona Association of School Business Officials (AASBO) Web site and learned we are getting less," Myers said. "We're getting $255,463."

At a June 26 board meeting, Sylvester said the district would receive about $784,000 from the new state budget that included $100 million for teacher raises around the state.

At the time Sylvester gave that amount, she said she did so reluctantly because school budget figures were not official and financing formulas are very complex.

No decision on teacher raises was made at the July 10 meeting because two board members, Don Engler and Vicki Holmes, were absent.

A special meeting will be held at 5:30 pm. July 13, Thursday, to decide teacher raises.

At the July 10 meeting, which drew an overflow crowd, Myers opened by promising the teachers and parents in attendance that district administrators will do everything possible to ensure the new state budget money is used as the Legislature and governor intended -- for teacher salaries.

Myers said she realized the issue was controversial but she hoped cooler heads would prevail and promised administrators would sort the budget to be sure teachers receive the salary increases intended.

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