It's the first school year in 15 years the Gilbert Unified School District isn't opening a new school.
Despite the slower growth, the district is building its fifth and final high school to open in fall 2009 and has plans to build the two final elementary schools in the next few years, said Clyde Dangerfield, assistant superintendent of business services.
"The district has met our growth expectations this year," Dangerfield said Tuesday. "Things are a little bit slower. We really need another elementary school way out east. That won't open until at least the fall of 2010. Those east schools are operating with a lot of portables."
The construction money is included in the district's proposed budget of $446.3 million for the 2008-2009 school year, which was approved Tuesday night by the governing board.
Last year's budget was $372.5 million.
The board will approve the final budget July 8, following an 8 a.m. public hearing at the district office.
The biggest difference in this year's proposed budget includes $100 million in voter-approved school improvement bonds, up from $57 million last year, Dangerfield said.
Voters approved a new bond in November for an additional $82 million. This money will be used to build the new high school and to renovate and remodel the existing schools, Dangerfield said.
One of the renovations planned is the replacement of the roof at Playa del Rey Elementary School, which the board also approved Tuesday.
The proposed budget is merely a "guesstimate" since the legislature is still finishing up the state budget, Dangerfield said.
"We put together what we expect it to be, but you never know what will happen," said Dangerfield, adding the state has to finalize its budget by June 30.
The budget is built around a two percent increase voters approved in Prop. 301 about eight years ago. There is an automatic increase built into what districts get from the state, Dangerfield said.
The biggest piece of this year's budget is $206.6 million in the maintenance and operations fund. Sixty-four percent of that money is spent for instruction in the classroom.
"We're proudest that we're making sure we're getting the most money in the classroom," Dangerfield said. "We're going in the direction we think the community wants."