School Budget Up – But Just Barely


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.

Underwood agreed.

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.”

Capital upgrades

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.

Proposed Capital


Technology $406,737


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

Flashing $850


Parking lot $18,291

Card doors $3,995

Cap flashing $3,800

Drainage $3,200

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


H. Wm. Rhea III 2 years, 10 months ago

"We have enough money, we've repaired the facilities, the teachers and staff are happy with the students and curriculum and the students themselves are testing quite well."

Who said this? Nobody! And it never will be said because nobody is ever happy no matter how much money is spent on education. Especially the newspaper and the school board.


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