By Julie Wiessner
Since the Arizona Legislature finally approved the state’s budget, school districts have received preliminary budget forms from the Arizona Department of Education (ADE), allowing them the ability to propose their budgets.
The Holbrook School District Governing Board held a special meeting June 21 to go over the preliminary budget and receive answers to their questions on it. The board then approved it.
A public hearing on the budget will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9, at the district office, located at 1000 N. Eighth Ave., with final approval anticipated by the board following the hearing.
The total estimated budget authority is $25.5 million, $3 million over the previous year’s budget. The biggest increase in the budget is for student transportation. Last year, $1,209,805 was spent on transporting students to and from school. This year’s pupil transportation amount is projected to be $1,419,462, or 17.3 percent higher than last year.
The second largest increase to the budget is for Maintenance and Operation of Plant at $1,758,900, an increase of 11.3 percent over last year’s $1,581,000. Included in this section of the budget are salaries, employee benefits, purchased services, supplies and other.
The budget includes an overall increase of 4.7 percent to the district’s Maintenance and Operations budget, which is at $16.2 million compared to last year’s budget of $15.5 million.
According to Superintendent Dr. Robbie Koerperich, “We will see an increase of about $60 per pupil funding due to an increase of approximately 65 students in average daily membership. This is good news for the district, as other school districts in the area are seeing a decrease in enrollment.”
Board member Rick Nichols asked, “Which schools have declining enrollment?”
Business Manager Garry McDowell answered, “Ganado, Snowflake, Joseph City and Winslow, to name a few.”
McDowell also noted, “The biggest surprise to the budget was that the governor proposed a 1.8 percent increase per pupil for schools to adjust for inflation and the legislature passed it.
“This issue is in litigation right now, and I guess it is the legislature’s way of conceding that they should be doing this. They quit this type of funding about four years ago.”
Another topic discussed by Koerperich was Impact Aid received in 2012-13, which totaled $4,873,539.10. It is expected to total about the same for 2013-14. Impact Aid is federal aid to support local school districts whose boundaries include parcels of land that are either owned by the federal government or that have been removed from the tax rolls by the federal government, including Indian lands.
These school districts face special challenges in that they must provide a quality education to the children living on the Indian reservations and other federal lands, and meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top legislation while sometimes operating with less local revenue than is available to other school districts because the federal property is exempt from local property taxes.
Districts are also eligible for Impact Aid if military bases cross school boundaries, if there are low-rent housing properties and other federal properties, or if they serve children who have parents in the uniformed services or who are employed on eligible federal properties.
Title I is also a major source of funding for the district. This money goes to help disadvantaged students.
McDowell noted, “Title I and Impact Aid represent our largest sources of federal funding.”
Local property taxes, another source of funding for schools, will remain the same this year as at the 2011 tax rate of 7.3012 percent. According to the preliminary budget summary packet, the district applies approximately $1.5 million per year of Impact Aid to reduce the local tax rate.
Federal and state governments both contribute 40 percent of money used for education, while the local percentage is 18, with the county providing two percent of school districts’ funding.
In other action June 21, the board approved hiring Emma Hubbard as an English teacher at Holbrook High School and Ryan Wiemer as a second grade teacher at Park Elementary School.
By Julie Wiessner