By Delarita Ford
Deer Valley Unified School District Governing Board is expected July 11 to adopt a proposed $199.8 million budget that includes a property tax increase.
The governing board last week approved advertising the spending plan for fiscal year 2017-18, which includes employee salary increases and maintains limited spending for capital projects.
The proposed property tax rate changes are the primary rate would increase 2.5 percent to $4.35 and the secondary rate would increase 2.4 percent to $2.5001. The net impact on the average assessed value residential property of $193,340 is an annual increase of $52 or 5.9 percent, according to the district.
Although the board approved the proposed budget limit, which is a .19 percent drop from the previous budget of $200.2 million, it was not without hesitation from certain board members.
Questions were immediately raised regarding budgetary concerns ranging from ongoing teacher pay discrepancies to whether an additional secretary was needed by a requesting department and the premise of questionable seed money was an issue.
“There will probably be some carry forward,” said Jim Migliorino, Deer Valley deputy superintendent of fiscal and business services, adding that about $825,000 expected to carry forward is less than the previous school year.
Vice President Jenny Frank was concerned about former seed money that was said to be designated for such things, including coding initiatives in the past despite a continuous plea for generous increases for teacher compensation necessary to attract and retain quality educators in the district.
“I will be looking carefully at the long term,” Ms. Frank said about funds she considered that could be applied to more legitimate expenses like teacher salaries and raises. “We will find money for certain projects and for certain things.”
“We do have this large carry forward and then we are telling teachers that they cannot have raises,” said Board member Darcy Tweedy. “If we have a large carry forward out there, I will be upset because this is money that can be going to teacher salaries.”
Ms. Tweedy asked if a portion of the excess could be used to substantially increase teacher salaries, but Mr. Migliorino said for that to happen those numbers would need to be reduced.
“We have money, we just don’t spend it on teacher salaries,” said Ms. Tweedy, noting how disparaging the “over projections” and “ridiculous things” sounded for the district. “I want to have a public record of our conversation.”
Mr. Migliorino maintained that priorities are salary increases for employees, capital funding and managing structural deficits, but stressed that the budget recommendations were merely a projection as the official adopted budget will be considered at the July 11 board meeting.
In addition to an outline of proposed expenditures broken down between what Mr. Migliorino considered inclusions and reservations in the budget, he encouraged members to also make some distinctions in those categories by prioritizing necessities from frivolities in time for the upcoming meeting. Among them being the request for a community education secretary.
Mr. Migliorino explained that the purpose of the advertised budget is to give a projection detailing what will be needed to operate the school district’s financial priorities.
“The proposed budget provides limits that cannot be exceeded,” he said, encouraging members not to dwell on certain budgetary factors in its preliminary stages.
“Sometimes I don’t understand why we sit on some cash accounts instead of using it for the athletics,” said Board member Ann O’Brien of the $67,000 Athletic Program’s capital needs.
She also requested at the beginning of the meeting to consider changing the way minutes are taken so the public can be directed to the meetings’ audio recordings, referencing the exact start and stop time frame for board members’ talking points, rather than the transcriber summarized notes.
Last week was one of the final board meetings for Dr. James R. Veitenheimer, who is retiring as Deer Valley superintendent, who acknowledged his successor, Dr. Curtis Finch, who was in the audience.
“Curtis, you are taking the reins for the best district,” Dr. Veitenheimer said, joking that he got his “gray beard from 100-plus board meetings.”
Board President Kimberly Fisher was absent from the June 27 meeting amidst a petition circulating calling for her dismissal after recent controversy about an online profanity-laced political banter on Twitter directed at a district teacher. She has refused to resign, citing her comments were as a private citizen on a private account, but implored the district to address the issue of cyberbullying.
Ms. Frank said Ms. Fisher had a family emergency so she conducted the night meeting.
The projected budget gives a synopsis of a $1.4 million overview of results- based funding subject to changed due to decreasing district student enrollment, resulting in the budget decreasing from last year’s $200 million; the advertisement encompasses a plethora of itemized expenses that allow for purchasing and vendor contracts including school equipment, repairs and textbooks; projected student counts and expenses at all district schools; individual departmental budget requests; building construction and repairs; teacher staffing; and more operating expenses.
Go to https://www.dvusd.org/cms/lib/AZ01901092/ Centricity/domain/56/ books/2016-2017/Board-Book_062717.pdf for complete details on the proposed budget and associated worksheets.