After five years of layoffs, salary freezes and crumbling infrastructure, the Payson Unified School District (PUSD) has turned a corner.
Business Manager Kathie Manning presented a projected budget to the PUSD school board on March 25 that included raises for all certified and hourly staff, the hiring of three more teachers and enough capital repairs to make the school district shine.
“I just want to preface this, this is not a proposed budget or an adopted budget — it is our best projection of a budget for next year,” said Manning.
In the world of school budgeting, districts must guess at what they will receive from the state before the Legislature even passes its budget — and often offer teacher and administrative contracts before they’re sure of the bottom line.
The school board Monday unanimously adopted the projected budget, but only after hours of discussion.
M & O Budget
The operating budget will rise 2 percent due to a surprising uptick in enrollment, a hoped for 1.4 percent increase by the state, which was included in Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposed budget the Legislature has not yet adopted.
The 100-day attendance numbers showed that the district serves 2,472 students.
Administrators urged the board to make its top priority raises for the staff after years of stagnation. The budget would boost teacher and counselor salaries by $1,000. Hourly staff will move up one step on the salary schedule. Staff have not had a salary increase for five years, but did get a one-year bonus last year.
Board president Barbara Underwood questioned offering raises that would leave the district with a whisper thin $40,000 contingency fund.
“First of all, I feel I am a conservative person. I have a problem with approving a budget with a low contingency,” she said. “So with the teachers ... my suggestion is to go back to the 182 days (of contract teaching), leave the funding without the extra days and use that just under $200,000 as a cushion.”
Interim superintendent Johnny Ketchem said, “Barb, reducing teacher days will not buy the teachers a quart of milk or a sack of potatoes.”
Manning said that would amount to taking away any raises.
Besides increasing salaries, the projected budget included the addition of three full-time teachers, a psychologist, and changing a part-time into a full-time guidance counselor secretary.
But everything costs something.
On the reduction side, PUSD will cut the Payson Virtual Academy online school and eliminate several positions including all the just added volunteer coordinators, the behavior counselor at the middle school, an interpreter and a roaming para-professional from special education.
The removal of the counselor at Rim Country Middle School (RCMS) concerned constituent Joann Conlin.
“For RCMS we are talking about taking away a behavior counselor ... I have heard there is a drug issue at the middle school,” she said. “Why would we take something away when we are trying to help students? My concern is that we are not taking everything into account.”
Manning told the board that since it had declined to expand the number of classrooms at Payson Elementary School, Facilities Manager Todd Poer had created a list of long-delayed but essential capital improvements.
Those included fixing leaky roofs, replacing doors and windows, and making various other needed facility upgrades.
“The analogy is, if you are a homeowner and you want to expand the house, but your roof leaks, you replace the roof,” said Jim Quinlan to explain why the board chose to spend the proceeds from the sale of Frontier on repairs.
Shirley Dye said that she understood PUSD has plenty of capacity to address any increases in enrollment, so she agreed to spend the Frontier money on maintenance projects.
Track recoat $106, 646
Parking lot $100,731
Roof seals $70,000
Dome acoustical $38,010
Ice makers $20,000
Roof, engineering $15,000
Lockers gym $15,000
Recoat gym floors $11,000
Replace two HVAC $11,000
Roof tech depart. $10,000
Replace door $8,500
Paint Bldg. B $8,400
Track fencing $7,600
Admin fencing $7,357
Repair basketball $4,800
Bathroom partitions $4,500
Replace floor tile $3,800
Paint Bldg B hall $3,800
Replace coolers $3,700
Windows press box $2,186
Auditorium lighting $1,600
Lightning protect $1,019
Parking lot $9,735
Replace doors $5,000
Ice maker $5,000
Parking lot $18,291
Card doors $3,995
Cap flashing $3,800
Payson Elementary School
Coat roof $130,000
Parking lot $16,043
Ice maker $5,000
Payson Center for Success
HVAC units $9,000
Recoat roof $8,500
HVAC unit $3,000