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11:32 PM Tue, Nov. 13th

PUSD will make cuts to music, art and PE if sales tax fails

Prescott Unified School District officials must eliminate at least $1.8 million from its 2010-11 maintenance and operations budget.

It is possible that the district will have to eliminate an additional $1.9 million if voters do not approve Proposition 100 - the one-cent sales tax initiative.

The district has already issued reduction in force letters to 31 teachers and 55 classified employees with one year of service or who work in a program that the district is eliminating.

To meet tier cuts associated with the $1.8 million budget cuts, district officials identified an additional eight teachers and 14 classified employees who could lose their jobs.

The cuts, however, did not stop there. During its April 13 meeting, the school board approved cutting 39 teachers and 19 classified staff members if voters do not approve Prop. 100 on May 18.

With few exceptions, the district would cut gifted, art, music and physical education programs, as well as nurses, computer lab technicians, in-school suspension supervisors and behavior coaches throughout the district.

Superintendent Kevin Kapp said the cuts necessary by the failure of Prop. 100 would "take your breath away."

The district leadership team identified 30 ways to cut the budget if the tax initiative fails. The team narrowed the list to 10.

If Prop. 100 fails, the Governing Board would have to consider the following budget reductions:

• Administration - $170,000 by reducing assistant superintendent's position to half-time; and reducing middle school and high school assistant principals to half-time; $220,00 by eliminating the assistant superintendent position.

• Art, music, PE at elementary schools - $480,000 by eliminating half the programs; and $820,000 if all the programs are eliminated.

• Behavioral coaches at elementary schools - $125,000 by eliminating the program.

• Computer techs at elementary schools - $125,000 by eliminating support services.

• School nurses - $70,000 by reducing registered nurses 50 percent and replacing them with health assistants.

• Gifted program - $100,000 by eliminating the current program.

• Increasing elementary class size by two students - $300,000 by reducing class sections at Abia Judd and transferring students to other elementary schools.

• PHS PE graduation requirement - $220,000 by eliminating PE and reducing graduation requirements from 22 to 21.

• PHS World Geography requirement - $90,000 by eliminating world geography and reducing graduation requirement from 21 to 20.5.

(The state does not require these two subjects - physical education and world geography - for graduation.)

• Athletics - $100,000 by moving athletics from M&O to auxiliary funding (Pay-to-Play and Tax Credits).

• Librarians - $40,000 by reducing days and hours by 20 percent.

• Salary reductions - $200,000 (1 percent), the district could implement furlough days with the reduction.

"We would have to do nearly all of these reductions if the sales tax fails," Kapp said.

PUSD teacher Amanda Chartier is a product of the school district. She has taught in the district for 20 years.

In 1980, Chartier pleaded with the board to "be careful of cuts in the arts. I know the budget is tight, but I would ask the board to again be thoughtful in cuts in arts, music and PE. We have an obligation to our students to feed their minds."

Parent JoAnn Chaffar asked if the district has considered charging for transportation. "As a mom, I don't mind paying for it," she said.

Kapp said the district could either offer free transportation or not offer it all. "In Arizona, we can't charge for transportation."

Transportation Director Jim Cowen confirmed that state law does not allow school districts to charge for transportation to and from school.