9/11/2013 9:47:00 AM 4 school supes enlighten public about dreary financial realities
HUSD Supt. Paul Stanton speaks about educational issues with a panel of local district superintendents from left, Chino Valley’s Duane Howard, Tri-City Prep’s Mary Ellen Halvorson, and Dave Smucker, Prescott.
Schools request bonds, overrides
Chino Valley USD requests $9.9 million bond
Bond money can be spent only on specific items - it cannot be used for salaries.
CVUSD bond request covers five categories:
Security and technology upgrades, $1.4 million, for fencing, security cameras, door locks, replace outdated network equipment, Advanced Learning Lab at high school.
Athletic and Performing Arts Facility improvements, $2.66 million, refurbish track, new soccer field, football and softball practice fields; field house with lockers, wrestling and weight rooms, concession, restrooms; remodel west gym to performing arts facility.
Facilities and grounds maintenance, repairs and improvements, $2.64 million, install A/C in classrooms, two water wells, complete deferred maintenance.
Perhaps they were preaching to the choir, but four school district superintendents plugged education and community involvement to a supportive audience at Saturday's League of Women Voters of Central Yavapai County meeting at Las Fuentes Resort Village in Prescott.
About 50 League members and guests turned out to hear the panel's answers to three questions, moderated by Juliana Goswick, LWVCYC program vice president, that touched on Federal and State cutbacks in funding, measures each district has taken to ease the effects of decreased revenue; and their vision for the future.
Supt. Paul Stanton, Humboldt Unified School District, said state budget cuts - 21.8 percent since 2008 - are responsible for district cuts in custodial staff, librarians, counselors, assistant principals, music staff, supplies, full-day kindergarten, and reduced budget for substitutes. Class sizes have increased, as have Pay to Play fees and employee health care costs.
Prescott USD Supt. Dave Smucker echoed the loss of funding, which has resulted in his district losing 109 positions in the past five years. PUSD continues to offer art, music and PE classes, but for 1-2 days per week instead of every day.
He has asked teachers to step into duties that para-professionals used to perform before those positions were cut. Classes are using textbooks that now are seven years old, although a golf tournament this past year raised enough money for new math textbooks.
"We want the best teachers we can get, and that's a challenge," Smucker said, referring to the lack of raises. "The increase in health care costs, no full-day K, larger class sizes, it puts weight on the teachers as well."
Supt. Duane Howard, Chino Valley USD, said he doesn't know if more money is the answer.
"We haven't tried that yet," he said, drawing laughter.
His district has lost 100 full- and part-time staff, and went to a four-day work week. The work schedule is hard on teachers, he said, but they like it because they can pick up a second and sometimes a third job on weekends.
"They work elsewhere so they can stay in the classroom four days a week," Howard said. Chino teachers have received an annual 1 percent raise, which means their paychecks have not decreased - or increased - for the past five years.
Students no longer have textbooks to take home; the books remain in the classroom, and students have other assignments for homework, he added.
Tri-City College Prep Supt. Mary Ellen Halvorson explained that charter school funding differs from public school.
"The (state budget) cuts have not affected the learning of students, but it has affected teachers and staff," she said. "They are overburdened; they coach for free; and every qualified administrator teaches at least one day a week. The teachers pick up some of the administrators' duties."
Halvorson said she took a $10,000 cut in salary, which now is less than $45,000, and the district does not spend money on advertising. Her teachers sometimes write textbooks, and are careful with the copy machines.
"We do support our classroom teachers to make teaching a pleasant experience," she said, by helping with student respect, classroom behavior, and homework.
Smucker said all districts are working together to share resources, professional development, and to split costs for services. He is concerned about what's happening at the federal and state level, and how the money is getting to local school districts.
Halvorson said she would like to see more state and federal land in Arizona declared taxable land, and hopes the state does not take away Prop. 301 money that goes to schools and teachers. She also would like to see Arizona offer more than one type of diploma, each with different requirements.
Stanton said HUSD has dedicated teachers and "we take all comers" no matter where the students are in their educational needs.
"I hope, in Arizona, a child will learn at his own pace with a highly effective teacher, using technology as a tool, and have the same experience no matter where he is in the state regardless of demographics or socioeconomic background," Stanton said, drawing applause from the audience.
Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Article comment by:
The cost to the residential taxpayer is listed but not the cost to a commercial property tax payer. If we raise the brunt of the money on the backs of businesses in this community that will be figured into their bottom line and passed on to the customers. I'm not saying I know whether it is or not since I haven't researched it yet, I'm just saying it would be fair to include it in your articles on this subject.
Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
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Quality education starts at home,
When parents teach their children lessons about the consequences of their behavior then quality teachers will be able to teach these children.
Quality students isn't the results of expensive schools, funded teachers unions, over-paid and underperforming school administrators, school boards, teachers and expensive sports programs.
When businesses aren't able to find adequate employees that are punctual, dependable, drug-free, reliable, trustworthiness with a genuine work ethic that has the ability to communicate, read, write and do simple math problems then someone has failed to provide the basics required for survival. Add in proper dress code, personal appearance and the picture gets far more complicated.
If you have a conversation with businesses owners in your community they may be willing to share their hiring frustration with you.
I don't say this to be mean spirited, I say it because it's the message I hear from businesses I work with across the country.
It's time for parents to get back to being parents and to quit being your child's best friend, our nation's future depends on it.
It would be a good first step for parents and their children to have dinner with each other. Though I'm not LDS, I will tell you that many years ago my wife and I adopted a LDS program that our children have told us that made a difference to them and it's called "Family Home Evening" as I remember it being called.
Gary Chamberlain Cornville AZ-USA Vietnam veteran
Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by:
FOUR (4) School Districts meet to discuss financial concerns. I bet the ONE thing that NEVER came up was consolidating these FOUR tiny school districts into ONE to save our schools a ton of money. What a waste of a meeting. I see at minimum three superintendent salaries that could go towards text books or additional teachers, let alone lease payments on offices, support staff salaries, consolidation of resources, etc.