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Sun, Feb. 23

Passage of Prop. 100 saves teachers' jobs

School district officials can breathe a little easier today because they won't have to cut deeply into school programs and teachers' jobs.

The superintendents from Prescott, Humboldt and Chino Valley are thrilled that Arizona voters expressed their support for education, health services and law enforcement by approving Proposition 100.

Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Kapp said voter approval of Prop. 100 means that the district "will not have to enact nearly $2 million in additional budget cuts. It means that special programs - art, music and PE - will remain intact for 2011. It means that about 70 employees will continue to be employed."

District officials still must trim their maintenance and operations budget. A decrease in the base amount districts receive per student, the elimination of state-paid all-day kindergarten and increases in state retirement contributions and health insurance premiums have school officials tightening their belts for the second year in a row.

By mid-March, district officials had identified budget cuts they would need to make to balance their 2010-11 fiscal years.

Prescott is facing an M&O budget deficit of $1.86 million. PUSD issued Reduction in Force letters to 31 certified and 55 classified employees with one year or less of service with the district. Additionally, the district gave RIF letters to 8 certified and 14 classified employees who work in programs it is cutting.

District officials hope that retirements and resignations allow them to bring back teachers and staff who received RIF letters.

An additional 58 PUSD teachers and staff members can breathe a sigh of relief, especially those in the music, art and drama programs at Prescott High School. Their jobs were on the line if Prop. 100 failed.

PUSD Education Association President Mike McCrady said he would sleep well Tuesday evening "knowing the next round of cuts don't have to happen. Our elected officials need to take a look at the results and say maybe we need to get on the side of education."

Humboldt Unified School District is facing a budget loss of $2 million. District officials have identified $$1.4 million in savings, leaving a budget deficit of $676,000.

HUSD's budget shortfall strategies include moving the district office to Bradshaw Mountain High School East Campus; returning sixth-grade students to the elementary schools; special education savings; library restructuring; eliminating one day per week of elementary music; returning to free half-day kindergarten; and English Language Learner staff cuts.

HUSD Superintendent Dr. Henry Schmitt was on "pins and needles all day (Tuesday) trying to guess which way it would go."

Schmitt said Prop. 100 would assist public education, "but it doesn't get education out of the woods. There are still difficult years ahead."

HUSD officials will look at its budget scenarios. However, Schmitt believes the way the district has "prudently managed our finances, we will be solvent in 2011. We will keep a strong group of teachers, support staff and administrators together."

The Chino Valley Unified School District is facing a $1.8 million M&O budget deficit.

To make up that deficit, the governing board approved the elimination of 20.5 teaching positions and sending RIF letters to 13 teachers.

District officials said the eight teachers who are retiring and the nine teachers who have resigned will make up for the positions the district eliminated.

To help meet the budget deficit, the board also approved the district's administration reorganization plan that creates a support service director. The director will take over the maintenance director's position and will oversee transportation, food service, network and finance.

The board also approved decreasing health insurance benefits for the administrative staff. The district will continue to pay for employees' medical coverage. However, the district will cover the premiums for the spouse or children, but not both.

CVUSD Superintendent Duane Noggle is "feeling optimistic. We will be calling back some teachers that were laid off. The district leadership team will meet and decide which positions to bring back. We will be bringing back no less than six and no more than 12. No classified positions will be called back."

Noggle hopes the Legislature "understands the balanced approach Governor Brewer was promoting. You cannot depend only on cuts."

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