P-S School’S Budget Sound For The Next Year

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So far being a small school has been a good thing for the Pine-Strawberry School District’s budget.

Last year, the district of 142 students ducked any major cutbacks and was one of the few districts in the state not forced to reorganize or lay off teachers.

The district did see a decrease in soft capital and grants, but that was expected, said Principal/Superintendent Michael Clark at a recent school board meeting.

With the Arizona Legislature only beginning talks on how it plans to battle the state’s massive deficit, it is too soon to say how the district will face this year, but Clark is optimistic they are prepared. While Clark doesn’t know what cuts will be made, the district is in “fine shape this fiscal year.”

“We can hang our hat on our budget at this time,” he said.

If soft capital funds are cut again, which covers textbook costs, the district will not be impacted since books were recently purchased.

Just in case, Clark is already working on next year’s fiscal budget.

Last year, the district wondered it if would have to cancel preschool or reorganize the middle school to cut costs. Luckily, most of those fears washed away when the small school’s funding was left mostly intact.

This year, with a larger deficit, what direction the Legislature takes is unknown. The P-S school district receives about $1 million a year from the state. This year, the district does not anticipate requesting a raise in the property tax rate of 4 percent, which has stayed the same for at least the last three years.

“Property taxes may have gone up, but not from us,” Clark said.

In the future, the district is planning to cover the cost of Clark’s replacement. Clark is expected to retire in roughly a year.

In terms of teachers, the board said it has no plans to make any cuts and is working to issue teacher contracts by April 15.

The school board will discuss the budget in depth at a 4 p.m. work-study session on Feb. 28 in the conference room at the P-S school, 3868 N. Pine Creek Drive.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the school board changed its meeting time to 4 p.m. the second Monday of each month. The board was previously meeting at 5:30 p.m. Board members said hopefully more teachers will attend the meetings with no one attending Monday’s meeting.

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