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Getting the 411 on the DVUSD budget

Elizabeth Medora ~ Staff~ 5/13/2015

NORTH VALLEY – The Deer Valley Unified School District offered the 411 as it pertains to next year’s budget at a community meeting on May 6.

Approximately 40 people attended the budget forum, including DVUSD Superintendent James Veitenheimer and Governing Board members Ann Ordway, Mike Gregoire, Ann O’Brien, and Kimberly Fisher. Board member Ron Bayer was not in attendance.

Jim Migliorino, DVUSD Associate Superintendent of Fiscal and Business Services, presented information at the forum and took participants’ questions regarding district budgetary concerns.

Migliorino noted that the meeting would provide “very simplified school finance fundamentals.” He added that the district was working to balance the 2015-16 budget.

“Unfortunately, that process requires us to consider some changes,” Migliorino said.

Migliorino presented information on the budget changes that have been made since 2010. The budget has seen repeated cuts, and the struggle to balance the budget with the least impact to students continues.

“We have cut continually,” Migliorino said. “Every year, there have been some adjustments that our board has had to consider.”

The district has been working from a list of priorities in addressing the cuts.

“We came up with some primary objectives,” Migliorino described. “We asked, ‘What do we need to focus on as a district?’” Staff contributed to the list of objectives, including cuts having the least impact to students, achieving Strategic Plan goals, keeping low student-teacher ratios, and employee preservation.

Funding is based off the number of students in the district. This year’s funding has been based on the number of DVUSD students last year. The district could potentially be awarded funds if an inflationary funding lawsuit brought by school districts around the state against the state of Arizona is won. This lawsuit alleges that schools were not properly funded in past years. However, if and when that funding will become available is uncertain.

Due to state funding changes, the DVUSD was facing a budget shortfall of about $4.4 million for the coming school year. District staff prepared a budget addressing the shortfall; it may be formally adopted this summer. Cuts include increasing high school parking fees, implementing a fee for high school sports, reducing district office positions, reducing other out-of-classroom positions, and utilizing school and community education accounts.

Discussing the options put forth, Migliorino emphasized the difficulty of balancing the budget and addressing this coming year’s $4.4 million shortfall. 

“None of these budget options are what we consider to be desirable,” he said. “Our governing board agonized over these options.”

While the Governing Board has already voted on the 2015-16 budget, it has not yet been formally adopted.

“We’re asking for input regarding these options tonight,” Migliorino said. “They (the Governing Board) value the input that the community provides.”

Meeting attendees asked questions about the presentation, clarifying information and deliberating financing options. The possibility of an upcoming override election was discussed. Volunteers are needed for the override election committee. District staff cannot advocate for an override themselves; only volunteers can advocate for the override.

Migliorino concluded with three priorities in the DVUSD’s future budget outlook: a salary increase for all employees, restoring capital funding, and reducing structural deficit. All of these priorities will have to wait until the funding is available to make them happen, however.

See the full DVUSD Budget 411 PowerPoint at www.DVUSD.org; click on the Our District tab, then click Budget 411. The district is also asking community members to take a survey on what they feel is most important in the district budget; see the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/DWCTYQL.