Clarkdale-Jerome School budget a 'see saw'

Student enrollment is up 16 percent over 2010

CLARKDALE - The Clarkdale-Jerome School District budget for fiscal year 2012 comprises a maintenance and operation budget of $2,364,411. That is a 4.5 percent decrease from the FY2011 M&O budget of $2,476,830.

Superintendent Kathleen Fleenor recently explained some of the budget's major components and how they affect the district.

"With the loss of ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) and our student enrollment increase plus a grant we finally received, this year's budget is like a see saw," Fleenor said.

The ARRA is commonly referred to as the federal stimulus funds. Fleenor explained that those funds were released by the federal government to help maintain jobs or create new jobs. There were no stimulus funds for this year's budget.

Clarkdale-Jerome School's student enrollment (referred to by school officials as ADM) increased from 348 students in 2010 to 406 in 2011. That increase was tallied on the 100-day count of last school year, and it is the enrollment number used by the state to set the district's budget for 2012.

"The increase in enrollment allowed us a little latitude for supplies, etc.," Fleenor said.

She pointed out that all of the school's staff have had a salary freeze for three years. The 2012 budget is the third year of that freeze.

Fleenor explained that the district finally received its Small and Rural Schools/ Rural Education Achievement Program Grant. That allowed the district to pay two part time classroom aides from the grant.

"The REAP grant is a federal grant and we have used it in the past to help fund our after school tutoring and two of our classroom part time assistants," Fleenor said. "We did add $8,000 for additional professional development into our M & O budget this year for two student and teacher academic programs we are using to increase our student achievement."

The district's special education instruction increased this year by little more than 19 percent. "This is the result of a loss of ARRA Stimulus Funding which resulted in the need to put an instructional assistant and part of a teacher's salary back into our M & O budget, due to the loss of the stimulus grants," Fleenor explained.

Unrestricted capital, which is used for things such as desks and hardware, is up 3.9 percent, or $12,041. "Student growth allowed us to put in a little more money so we could buy additional desks, tables and computers for classrooms," Fleenor said.

But soft capital is down by $12,258, or 13.3 percent. Fleenor said that budget category would have been down by 25 percent due to cuts by the Arizona Legislature. "But again, we were able to use our student ADM growth to help offset those cuts," Fleenor said.

She pointed out that soft capital is the money schools use for textbooks, renting equipment and instructional aids such as workbooks.

"The bottom line is that everyone has worked together to watch our funds to make sure we have enough for students and our basic needs," Fleenor said.

She said that the enrollment increase helped the district to maintain all positions with salary freezes. "But at least we have not had to cut any positions and have been able to keep people working," Fleenor said.

"The enrollment increase allowed us to handle the cuts to soft capital," Fleenor said. "However, we have not ordered any new textbooks for four years. We are only replacing used textbooks that are no longer salvageable."

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