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CCUSD proposing budget cuts for 2014-15

Elizabeth Medora~ 5/21/2014

CAVE CREEK – Like many other school districts across the country, Cave Creek Unified School District is trying to find a way to make a dollar stretch as far as possible.

At the CCUSD Governing Board meeting on May 13, a 2014-2015 budget was proposed, which included significant cuts to combat the lack of revenue the district has received in recent years.

“Navigating this budget is going to be a challenge going forward,” noted governing board president David Schaefer.

The potential budget presented at the May 13 meeting is a proposal only and will not be voted on until June.

The proposed cuts include surplussing three kindergarten teachers, two elementary teachers, 0.2 of a teaching position on Sonoran Trails Middle School, and 0.6 of a teaching position at Cactus Shadows High School. Another anticipated cut is discontinuing staff performance pay. 

Board member Susan Clancy debated the planned high school athletic fees included in the incoming revenue section of the budget. CSHS athletic fees cap at $930 per family.

“I think we have one of the highest set of fees,” Clancy said. “I think a lot of kids are being denied the opportunity because their parents can’t afford it.”

“The athletic experience is a big part of a student’s high school/middle school experience, and if we continue to be the most expensive guy in town, I am pretty confident that, while our district does not want to support athletics financially, it’s directly proportional to students leaving our school district,” added board member Janet Busbee.

Superintendent Dr. Debbi Burdick addressed the board, stating that the fees generally cover just what is needed for athletic programs and that there typically is nothing left in the account at the end of the school year.

“We would love to support athletics through the district dollars,” Burdick said. She noted that the district has had to cut teachers, as well as various programs, due to budget cuts.

The proposed athletic fees were approved by the board, 4 to 1.

One section of the potential budget would require CCUSD staff to give up about $30 per month from their paychecks to help fund the district insurance policy. This item was debated by the governing board, district staff, and the president of the Cave Creek Education Association and CSHS teacher Lori Hart.

“For our teachers, $30 a month is a lot of money,” said Hart, speaking as a public commenter. She illustrated the financial troubles many teachers have been experiencing, relating that she personally knows a teacher who could not come to work one morning because she could not afford to put gas in her car.

“Over 40 percent of our teachers have a second job to make ends meet,” Hart added.

Board member Stephanie Reese noted that trying to find an answer to the budgetary woes was difficult for her and the rest of the board.

“It’s rare when we get to talk about giving teachers more,” Reese said regretfully. “It’s rare when we are able to value them in a financial way. They work so hard, and they are so dedicated to our kids and our district.”

Board president Schaefer moved to amend the motion that would require an employee contribution to insurance, striking the employee contribution. The other board members agreed, and the motion was passed, minus the employee contribution stipulation. This approval was greeted with cheers from the teachers in the audience.

The CCUSD finance staff will now be considering other ways to make up the shortfall in the insurance fund – about $168,000 – including taking the needed capital from the district’s overflow insurance fund, termed a ‘rainy day’ account.

The budget will continue to be reworked until it is finalized for a governing board vote in June. Visit the CCUSD Web site at www.ccusd93.org for budget announcements and upcoming meeting notices.