Thu, April 09

CVSD Begins Planning Process for Override

The Camp Verde School Board met for a work session on Tuesday night to get input from teachers, administrators, fellow board members and the public before prioritizing what programs the district would ask the community to fund in the upcoming override election.

The board had previously approved a resolution at their Jan. 11 meeting that will ask for the voters in the district to approve a ten percent override that is expected to bring in an additional $610,000 in revenue.

School Superintendent Ron Maughan opened the discussion with a frank statement of the school’s current budget outlook.

"We are experiencing a blizzard of expectations," Maughan said. "Expectations from special education requirements, expectations from Washington, AIMS testing and English language learners programs.

"But the funds to fulfill those expectations have been slow in coming, if at all. We have continued to be asked to do more with less."

Maughan told the participants that not only have the funds been elusive, but also the costs just to keep the status quo are increasing every year.

"Over the last few years, we have repeatedly differed costs. We have 23-year-old buses—we have trimmed the hours of our custodial staff so we don’t have to pay expensive benefits, and absorbed the costs of state mandated employee benefits, which went up $120,000 two years ago, and are expected to rise another $130,000 this upcoming year.

"Inflation has had a 28-percent increase over the last 10 years, while our funding from the state legislature has only increased by 12 percent," Maughan said. "It’s kind of discouraging."

Maughan did note that in spite of all of the pressures, the Camp Verde School District has the lowest administrative costs of any district in the Verde Valley and one of the lowest in the state — returning almost 92 percent of its budget to the classroom.

People in the audience, administrators and board members each took a couple of minutes to prioritize their wishes and desires for the district.

Participants mentioned the need to remain competitive in teacher salaries, more elective classes, and increases in science and math courses, advance placement programs and fine arts programs.

However, the general consensus was that in light of the basic needs of the district, the override would, at best, allow the school to maintain the status quo, with some minor increases to elective programs and decreases in class size.

"In order to maintain what we have, we will have to ask the citizens of Camp Verde to fund what the state legislature won’t," Maughan said.

The Camp Verde School District is the only K-12 district in the Verde Valley that does not currently operate with an override.

Sedona, Cottonwood-Oak Creek, and Mingus Union have all had overrides for the last few years and all of them will be going back to their voters this year to ask for extensions or increases.

School districts fund their maintenance and operating (M&O) budgets from an allotment received from the state based on the number of pupils enrolled in the school.

The Camp Verde School District has had no significant enrollment increases over the last few years.

The only instrument the school can use to increase revenues is to ask for an override, which state statue limits to 10 percent of the district’s annual M&O budget. Camp Verde’s current M&O budget is approximately $6.1 million.

The M&O budget pays for almost all of the school’s annual expenses including teacher salaries, benefits, lights, paper, school buses–virtually everything and everybody the school employs in its daily business.

M&O overrides remain in effect for seven years after they are voted in. At the end of the fifth year, the percentage drops by one-third of the original amount for each of the last two years, which for a 10 percent override would be to 6.66 percent the sixth year, then to 3.33 percent the final year.

Traditionally school districts go back to the voters the fifth year to ask for an extension, which is what the other Verde Valley districts are doing this year.

The override issue is expected to go before the voters on May 17, and is estimated to costs property owners about $97 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

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