May 242013

By Julie Wiessner
With the passage of Governor Jan Brewer’s Medicaid Restoration Plan in the Arizona Senate, the state budget is one step closer to passage. Until it is passed, all schools in Arizona will have to wait for educational funding numbers in order to finish their budgets for the coming school year.
Holbrook School District Business Manager Garry McDowell noted, “K-12 education makes up over 40 percent of the state budget. It is frustrating to have delays for the fiscal year 2014 budget. However, our district is fortunate that we have confirmed student growth/funding of four percent for next year.”
Under the state’s funding formula for schools, this year’s student count is used to calculate next year’s spending/budget authority. This aspect of the funding formula is very important as schools plan for subsequent years, such as hiring teachers, staffing, classrooms and so forth.
McDowell continued, “The current delay is, however, making it difficult to know how much funding will be provided on a ‘per student’ basis.”
As of May 18, McDowell said, “Senator Rich Crandall, R-Mesa, was successful in keeping the promise that school funding formulas, or capital funding, might at some point in the future be restored.”
The total loss of state capital funding in fiscal year 2013 was $569,517 for the Holbrook district.
McDowell made contact with Tami Phillips, chief deputy of the Navajo County Superintendent of Schools Office, thanking her for her assistance in readying the November ballot to renew the district’s 10 percent maintenance and operations Override. With such loss of state funding, it creates a need to seek whatever funding the schools may be able to continue or secure.
Winslow School Superintendent Doug Watson also relayed his thoughts about the Winslow schools budget.
“We are pretty set in our budget and are not able to award employees raises for next year due to funding reductions associated with reduced enrollment in the district this year,” he noted.
District officials are also waiting for the state to set the 2013-14 budget. All reports indicate there will be some additional money from the state, but there will be specific purposes for which the state will instruct the district to use the money.
“This will include staff training in the Common Core Standards, as well as equipment for online testing,” noted Watson.