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8 May 1 - 14, 2010

CUSD budget from Page 1

be completely eliminated for the upcoming school year.

The situation is more severe should voters reject the sales tax increase. CUSD would then face much deeper cuts to its already lean budget, needing to slash an additional $29 million.

Submitted photo

DARE CUT: A one cent sales tax increase most likely won’t save budget cuts in the D.A. R. E. drug prevention program.

Prop 100 offers limited relief

On May 18, Arizonans will vote on Proposition 100, a proposal that would temporarily raise the state sales tax by one cent with the new revenue going to fund primary and secondary education, health and human services and public safety.

If the measure is approved, CUSD will receive some additional funds to help ease its current financial burden.

“If Prop 100 passes, we can cut the budget $14.6 million without increasing class sizes, and no cut in base pay for teachers and staff,” Locke explains. But even if the measure is approved, it wouldn’t bring in enough to cover the entire shortfall in CUSD’s budget. In the best case scenario, funding for textbooks, computers and equipment would still be cut by 80 percent. And things like the D.A.R.E. program and district-sponsored field trips are slated to

“If Prop 100 fails, we are faced with 100 to 150 lost jobs across the board, complete loss of soft capital to pay for student furniture, equipment, computers and textbooks,” reports Locke. “Class sizes would increase by an average of two students, and all employees would experience a pay cut of up to 4 percent. We would also have discussions of a pay to play plan for athletic and extracurricular activities.”

Other funding sources sought

Whatever the outcome of the special election, CUSD faces a dire financial situation. Officials continue to explore other possible funding sources to help bridge the gap, such as the $400 rebated tax credit that has historically provided much-needed aid to Chandler area classrooms.

“We raised just over $1.8 million in 2009, down from the $1.9 million raised in 2008,” says Locke of the tax credit. “It certainly provides a financial boost for some extracurricular programs, but it can’t be used for basic needs or to assist with classroom size or recruiting or retaining quality staff.”

There is also talk of a possible bond election that would put the question of increased funding for schools before Chandler voters this autumn. “A citizen’s growth committee this spring

recommended the governing board call for a bond election in November 2010 to replace lost capital funding,” says Locke. “The decision and the amount of the bond will be determined by the governing board in June.”

CUSD gets creative

As the budget crisis continues into the foreseeable future, CUSD officials are committed to finding innovative solutions to help see students, staff and families through the rough economic times.

Camille Casteel

“We continue to look at every consideration to keep the district operating as efficiently as possible,” notes Locke. “This includes our study on space utilization, which could involve repurposing an elementary school to house Hamilton Prep, maximum use of our resources such as three shifts for our support staff crew, maximizing the capacity of our buses and more.”

CUSD Superintendent Camille Casteel presents an information session on the impact of Proposition 100 on the district at 6:30 p.m. Thu., May 6 in the Hamilton High School’s cafeteria at 3700 S. Arizona Ave. The public is invited to attend.

Miriam Van Scott of Kerby Estates is a freelance writer and Chandler transplant from the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached at Miriam@SanTanSun.com.

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