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Fri, Dec. 13

PUSD board approves official 2019-20 budget

The former Washington Elementary School is now PUSD’s district offices. (Les Stukenberg/Courier file)

The former Washington Elementary School is now PUSD’s district offices. (Les Stukenberg/Courier file)

In an empty chamber, the Prescott Unified School District Governing Board finalized its 2019-20 education budget on Tuesday, June 25, with district administrators expected to spend $25.84 million for its operations.

Just over a half million dollars more is slated for capital, or one-time major expenses.

This was the finale of a more than six-month process to figure out how to maintain the district’s existing programs and staffing levels, with 5 percent raises to teachers and 2 percent raises to all other district employees. The budget also adjusts for an anticipated 145 fewer students.

The official budget must be forwarded to the state Department of Education by July 5.

The board voted 3-0 in favor with John Mackin voting by phone and members Scott Hicks and Connie Donovan absent. District Superintendent Joe Howard was also absent; Assistant Superintendent Mardi Read and Chief Financial Officer Brian Moore were both present.

The state funding formula is based on about $5,000 per pupil calculated with current year funding on average student totals as of the 100th day of school. If those numbers are lower than projected, the district has to adjust its budget to give back money; if the number is higher, then the state must reimburse the district those extra dollars. The district’s savings from the current year into next year is about $1.4 million.

Prescott has been a declining enrollment district for much of the past decade.

In April, the board approved the proposed budget following a March retreat that included an in-depth review of the district’s academic programs, class sizes, technology needs, new curriculum and retention of additional counseling assistance to assist with students’ emotional and behavioral needs. District and school administrators were charged with adjusting the budget to accommodate for enrollment, and to adjust staffing to meet those needs.

To do so, the district trimmed nine teaching and three staff positions, most by attrition or reassignment, and the reduction of one instructional coach. The library operations at the high school and middle school will remain open, but are changing to reflect student trends toward more independent research and study. In total, to accommodate $1.92 million in increased costs, the schools needed to reduce costs by about $700,000.

As Prescott is one of the few districts across the state that does not qualify for state equalization funds, taxpayers foot the bill for the budget. The proposed tax rate for the coming year is slightly less than last year: 2.6337 reduced to 2.4667 based on the city’s assessments on residential and business property rising about 8 percent, Moore explained. The tax rates for the override and the bond remain the same: .11 on the $6 million override and .14 for the $15 million bond approved in 2015.

For someone with a home assessed at $200,000 — with the tax based on 10 percent of that amount — the school tax will be $493 for the operations budget with an additional $22 for the override and $28 for the bond.

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