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Camp Verde school district cuts art, saves welding
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Thursday, 19 May 2011 12:25

The Camp Verde Unified School District Board made some choices about what to cut and what to keep in the upcoming 2011-2012 fiscal year in the face of tightening purse strings at its May 10 meeting.

On the bright side for the district financial planners, the school district is far from being in the worst shape, compared to some districts around the state.

Reavan Martinez, a Camp Verde High School sophomore, finishes a class welding project for the year Friday, May 13. The Camp Verde Unified School District Governing Board found room May 10 for the welding program in next year’s budget opting to lose a staff position in the art department instead. Welding instructor Cody Carter said serious students in his program can find limitless work when they leave school, often in entry level positions with starting salaries of around $20 per hour.“[The budget] is a moving target,” CVUSD Superintendent Dan Brown said. “We keep getting new and different information from the state.”

Still, the school board had to find areas to cut back. Business manager Janet Leuer presented the board with a number of different options to consider, but it was clear the district can’t afford everything it would like to pay for, both inside and outside the classroom.

The money hole isn’t as deep as it could be; there is some money that will carry over from the current fiscal year. The district can also take advantage of impact funding, federal money designed to help make up for students whose families don’t pay into the property tax system that provides a good chunk of the district’s funding. In Camp Verde, the money is mostly appropriated because of the Native American students who live on tribal land.

The district has $1.3 million in reserves, but board members expressed hesitation to dip into that cash to cover expenses, especially when the budget may get even tighter in coming years.

“I just think we shouldn’t touch the reserves, even though it does leave us less money to work with,” board member Helen Freeman said.

The board agreed to provide a 2 percent raise to teachers, but that money will likely be eaten up by an increase in the cost of retirement plans.

The board also voted to keep a welding class that was facing uncertainty after cuts were made to technology education funding, along with a graphic design class.

Money was also approved to continue paying for a five-year step salary increase program, originally instituted under the direction of former Superintendent Jeff Van Handle.

Brown said the program is designed to take care of a problem with salary schedules that had some first-year teachers making more money than teachers who had been working longer.

Cuts were made to arts education, however, with the elimination of an art teaching position.

Board member Trent Hackett suggested taking half of the money for the art position, around $20,000, to leave for other teachers to spend on art-related projects in their various classes. The idea was dropped in favor of continuing the step salary program.

The board also approved setting aside funding to offer a group insurance program to any part-time employees who want to participate.

If it turns out to be required to cover some expenses, Hackett said he didn’t have a problem with the district dipping slightly into their reserves.

“If we sit on this $1.3 million, what good is it doing?” Hackett asked.

A proposal to cut kindergarten classes to a half-day was also rejected, although Camp Verde Elementary School Principal Debbie Pottorff said the school does offer half-day kindergarten if a child’s parents request it.

So far, though, no parent has requested it, Pottorff said.

Brown said the district staff and Leuer would take the board’s budget decisions into account as the new budget year approaches.

“We’ll be back with a more comprehensive package,” Brown said.

The budget must be approved before the fiscal year begins Friday, July 1.

 

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