Jacob Harmon is the business director for MUSD. [File]

The Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board unanimously adopted a $101.6 million budget last week that included several last-minute increases.

Those increases were made possible by the state legislature, which boosted state-wide education funding by $625 million prior to final budget approval. The extra funding allowed the MUSD to enhance previously approved raises for district staff by another percent.

A 5-percent, across-the-board increase had already been proposed by the district, but the legislature’s action allowed MUSD to bump the salary increase to 6 percent. The change was welcomed by district administrators.

“The (additional) 1-percent raise fulfills the Governing Board’s promise to place more dollars in the classroom and invest in the retention of quality teachers,” said MUSD Superintendent Dr. Tracey Lopeman. “Stability in the classroom is the foundation for success.”

The district’s finance director, Jacob Harmon, said staff raises help keep the district competitive.

“This will position the district much closer to the state average in teacher salaries and allow us to be more competitive in a strong labor market,” Harmon said.

The last-minute allocation from state legislators was somewhat unusual, he admitted.

“Typically, once we propose a budget and advertise a public hearing, statute does not allow a district to pass a budget higher than what was on our proposal,” he said. “Since the legislature passed the budget so late this year with significant increases to K-12 funding, they wrote in the language to allow districts to adopt budgets higher than the proposal.”

The MUSD budget breaks out into five primary categories, including:
– $71.7 million for maintenance and operations
– $13.3 million for unrestricted capital outlays
– $8.7 million for the adjacent ways fund
– $8 million for the classroom site fund