By Ethan McSweeney
With additional funding from Proposition 123 secured, Maricopa Unified School District introduced a plan to use the cash to add 13 new teachers and other hires, as well as salary boost for employees.
MUSD Superintendent Steve Chestnut presented the proposed new spending for next year’s budget at the district’s Governing Board meeting Wednesday night. MUSD will receive more than $3.46 million in additional revenue for the next school year with $2.5 million of that coming from Proposition 123, which Arizona voters approved on a razor-thin margin last month.
More than $926,000 of the additional money would go to a 3.7-percent salary increase for MUSD employees under the proposal.
“We’re very excited to be able to propose that,” Chestnut said. “It’s the largest increase we’ve offered in many years as a result of passage of 123.”
More than $700,000 is included next year to pay for the additional 13 teachers. MUSD would need to work to fill those positions for the next school year, Chestnut said.
It’s possible additional revenue for the next school year will increase slightly in the near future above the $3.4 million, Chestnut said.
Potential new hires also include an additional security officer, a nurse, a mental health counselor and three in-school suspension teachers. Five special education staff members, including two teachers, are proposed in new spending, too.
“Our special ed. population continues to grow and get more complex,” Chestnut said. “We’re excited about the fact that we will have some cost savings this year in special education expenditures.”
Those savings will come from being able to bring 12 special education students who currently go to Casa Grande for school to come back to Maricopa, Chestnut said. The Southwest Education Center, which provides service to the students, plans to place a teacher at Maricopa Wells Middle School for those 12.
The proposal also includes $535,000 for an annual stipend for all returning staff. This year’s stipend would be much larger than what was paid out last year, Board Member Gary Miller said.
A preliminary budget will be presented at the next MUSD Governing Board meeting on June 22, which will allow input to be provided on creating the final budget for the 2016-17 school year. That final budget will be introduced at the July 13 meeting.
By a 51-49 margin, Arizona voters in May approved Proposition 123, which will allow Arizona to tap into the State Land Trust to provide K-12 schools with an addition $3.5 billion over the next 10 years.
The measure was introduced to settle a long-standing lawsuit from the schools against the state Legislature. A judge determined the state owed schools up to $1.3 billion for failing to provide the required inflation funding increases during the recession years.