School District Under Spends To Create Buffer

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Payson Unified School District under spent last year’s budget by $400,000, officials said Thursday.

Of the $16 million maintenance and operations budget, the district spent less than expected in nearly every category including classroom instruction, school-sponsored athletics and student transportation.

The district spent roughly $10,000 more than expected in general administration costs and $668 extra in a support services subcategory in special education.

Still, the district now enjoys a budgetary buffer for one-time expenses — if it needs a school bus, for instance, said district Business Manager Bobette Tomerlin.

“It’s not like a paycheck you get every month,” she said.

The district also anticipates $140,000 in annual energy savings once its $1.3 million conservation project is finished in December. A $200,000 grant from the state helped pay for the project. Bond money financed the rest.

The district is also exploring a possible partnership with five other school districts to install rooftop solar panels.

The option is very preliminary, and not inevitable, said Superintendent Casey O’Brien. Payson could join several Valley schools in negotiating with a private party to install the panels. Details beyond that are uncertain, O’Brien said.

“We’re happy to be on the leading edge of exploration,” O’Brien said. But “ultimately, we have to (ask), does this work for Payson?”

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