School Board honors athletes, discusses budget

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Wednesday, the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board acknowledged Elisha Donaldson on his selection to the First Team All-State football team before continuing the girls basketball team championship tour and discussing the potential uses for the 2015-16 budget.

In December, Donaldson was named First Team All-State for Division III Football as a wide receiver. During the 2014 season, Donaldson caught 55 passes for 1,264 yards and 11 touchdowns. The senior standout showed great skill and potential, and his coach believes his athletic impact is just getting started.

“There’s no ceiling for this kid,” coach Chris McDonald said. “I remember when I first got the job and we first met. I saw a kid that had amazing potential. This is really just the beginning of what he’ll be able to do.”

The athletic accolades continued when it was announced that Kati Burrows was named Arizona Basketball Coaches Association’s Division II Coach of the Year. The board also honored the Division II girl’s basketball state champions. Each member of the team was called up and given a certificate of achievement.

After the athletes were honored, the board turned their attention to the budget. Superintendent, Dr. Steve Chestnut, presented the board with the projected numbers for the 2015-16 school year. The district’s outlook projects the school will have $31,000 more dollars in the budget than the year before.

“It’s the equivalent of one-tenth of one percent of the budget,” Chestnut said. “However, it’s not a cut. So we are thankful for that.”

Chestnut also stated the No. 1 priority for the district is to retain all current staff members. The projected cost to do this would be $540,000. It is Chestnut’s belief that any staff member who wants to stay with the district will not have an issue doing so.

“There will be extra job openings due to the natural attrition that happens each year,” Chestnut said. “The current staff members would step into the open positions before a teacher outside the district was brought in.”

Chestnut’s presentation also showed a potential budget reduction of $74,000 by eliminating extra costs. The largest cut came from a potential $34,000 reduction in health staffing. Eliminating some pre-school paraprofessionals, unused software and independently contracted positions could also save the district money.

The high school will be adjusting its graduation requirements as well. The half-credit health requirement will be dropped and added to the elective portion. Since a health credit is not required by the state, it will become part of the physical education curriculum.

***ADVERTISEMENT***“What’s really important is that [integrating health into physical education] opens up more options,” high school Principal June Celaya said. “It was an out-of-the-box way of thinking, but it really opens things up. P.E. is the most in demand, so instead of losing a half-credit for a requirement, we get the best of both worlds.”

The school expects the move to allow them to offer a wider variety of weight training and physical education classes.

The board also discussed the upcoming changes to the 2015-16 salary schedule. See related story.