School Board Adopts $19 Million Budget

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The $19 million school budget the Payson Unified School District Board passed Monday night featured cutbacks and some expansions, many of which, canceled each other out.

The district will essentially break even

next year, with total spending virtually unchanged. Their operating budget will decline $12,000 to about $16 million. In addition, the capital budget was about $1.4 million and the district will receive roughly $1.7 million in federal funds.

The regular education program will include about 200 employees, 119 of them classroom teachers. The special education

program will account for a big chunk of the total budget, with 57 employees to support the program. Of that number, 48 of them are teachers.

All told, the district has 278 employees and pays $10.3 million for salaries and $3.3 million for benefits. The amount of money the district will receive per child increased from last year, said district Business Manager Bobette Tomerlin. However, enrollment dropped by 102 last year, which produced nearly identical funding this year.

Higher rates of autism translate to an extra $136,881 spending for their education, to $367,475. Tomerlin said the district hired new autism aides last year.

Overall declines in behavioral special education amounted to a net decrease of nearly $11,000. For instance, emotional disabilities education spending dropped from about $249,000 to $173,332,

"We're seeing fewer emotionally disabled children," Tomerlin said.

Spending for the total special education budget -- which includes gifted programs, career education and vocational training -- increased by about $13,000. Funding for gifted education dropped from about $8,000 to $683 while vocational and technological education training saw a nearly $23,000 increase.

The federal government gave Payson schools $1.7 million for various projects, including homeless education, adult education, and other programs.

The state allotted Payson $2 million for drop out prevention, family literacy and drug abuse prevention programs, among others.

"I think we fared very well," Superintendent Casey O'Brien told the school board Monday evening, regarding state financing.

A GEAR UP grant the district will likely receive will provide $180,000 annually to help convince students to attend college.

The extra money will follow this year's incoming seventh graders as they progress through grade levels.

Therein lies the tricky part, O'Brien said. Teachers and programs geared toward seventh graders must change to match their grade level as the students age.

The district expects to receive nearly $39 million from selling its remaining bond debt in August.

The money will fund ongoing construction projects.

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