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The Payson Unified School District unveiled Thursday night a lean $18.7 million budget for 2010 that nevertheless appeared to maintain programs.

The district’s operating budget shrank 10 percent from last year’s original budget, to $14.6 million. The state cut nearly $350,000 from last year’s operations budget to balance its fiscal year 2009 budget, a move which absorbed the district’s reserves.

On Monday, the Payson school board will vote on this year’s budget.

The total spending limit of $18.7 million is roughly 3 percent smaller than last year’s $19 million, and features fewer staff members, but no layoffs, and an extra $1.1 million in federal funds.

This year, classroom instruction spending will drop from $6.4 million to $6 million. The district will save $1.6 million in salaries and benefits by eliminating positions, and funding for school activities will decrease. The district cut funding for school-funded activities and athletics in the operations budget, but replenished the money with federal funds.

Payson schools expect to receive $2.8 million in federal funds, up $1.1 million from last year, much of which is stimulus dollars. Money for state-funded projects like an early childhood education grant stayed stable, however, money for vocational education was nearly halved, to $49,000.

Payson schools are legally required to pass a budget by July 15.

This year, the state legislature’s budget negotiations complicated projections because officials had little concrete data to work from. And the budget could still change.

The state did not pass a budget until early in the morning on July 1.

After a special session and more negotiations, the budget may still not be complete because it reportedly has a $2.1-billion deficit.

To balance this year’s $1 million operations fund shortfall in Payson, the district will slightly increase class size at the middle and high schools, although elementary schools could see a decrease because of an enrollment bubble, Superintendent Casey O’Brien has said.

The district also eliminated 11 positions while avoiding layoffs, and made dental insurance voluntary.

See Tuesday’s Roundup for a more in-depth look at the budget.

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