June 29, 2005 - School districts throughout Arizona are submitting proposed annual budgets for the coming 2005-06 school year, and with a proposed budget of more than $27 million in maintenance and operations and a first-time-ever capital override approval, Catalina Foothills School District is hoping the extra money will be put to good use.
The budget, which was expected to be voted on and passed as recommended by the time the EXPLORER went to print, June 28, calls for money to be spent in similar ways to previous years, except for one exception affecting district libraries and technology improvement.
An approved capital override from the November 2004 election secured the district an extra $600,000 a year for the next seven years, said Director of Finance Lee Bergman.
The extra money has been allocated primarily to increasing library collections, updating resource material and replacing used technologies, something each school will benefit from, Bergman said.
Preparing the school district's budget, much of which is a forecast into the upcoming school year, is complicated, Bergman said. Each school district throughout the state is allocated a certain amount of money that it must divide into the areas where school administrators feel the money is most needed. In this case, Catalina Foothills Super-intendent Mary Kamerzell, Bergman and Assistant Superintendent Terry Downey met and came up with recommendations detailing how they think the money should be spent, Downey said.
"We kind of deal with all of it, so we have a chance to look at where we are," Downey said. "(We) look at what kinds of things might be possible."
The administrators also take into consideration new revenues, such as voter-approved overrides, which add a certain designated percent increase to state-allocated money.
For the 2005-06 school year, the Catalina Foothills maintenance and operations budget is projected at $26.9 million, a 2 percent increase from last year, Bergman said.
In a district similar to Catalina Foothills, where enrollment numbers generally stay about the same from year to year, the projected budget does not increase dramatically. The only significant increase came from Proposition 301, which provides funds from Arizona sales taxes. It increases annually by 2 percent, causing the budget to increase slightly from year to year, Bergman said.
For the first time in the history of the district, the voters approved a capital override giving the district an additional $600,000 for seven years, he said.
"(It's) a nice boost for the district," Bergman said.
The override money will be divided among each of the schools within the district, Bergman said. About $190,000 will be used to enhance curriculum through new textbook adoption, new software and material replacement.
About $154,000 will be used for technology updates in the labs and workstations.
Ventana Vista librarian Caryl Jones said she is excited about the money and looks forward to increasing the materials in her library.
She said the district uses a system that tells the librarian what materials are time sensitive and should be replaced, a system that mainly deals with replacing reference material. She joked that you don't want a book in the library stating a man just walked on the moon for the first time.
With this money, she said the library would be able to make improvements for the students. However, the district has not told each librarian specifically what he or she will be receiving.
Even though the budget is not final, Jones is content that she will have some extra money for her library.
"I am very proud of the district," she said.
The district's governing board was scheduled to vote and adopt the budget June 28. No board member would respond to requests for comment. One board member, when reached, referred all comments and questions to board President Cliff Altfeld, who also could not be reached for comment.
This is the last year Bergman will be working on the upcoming school budget. He is leaving his position at the district at the end of June. The new director of finance for the district will be Sandy Thompson, who will officially begin her duties July 1.