Student activity fees will double next school year in the Tempe Union High School District under the budget approved by the governing board this week.
The board voted 4-1 Monday night to adopt a total $83 million budget for the 2008-2009 school year.
The district made some $640,000 in cuts, but also gave all employees one step increase in their salary schedules, as well as a 1 percent salary increase and a 1 percent stipend.
The dissenting vote was cast by board member Robin Arredondo-Savage, who voiced concerns over the plan to double fees for extracurricular activities — including sports and orchestra — from $25 to $50.
District officials blame the tight budget — down some $1.9 million from last year — on the fact that the community rejected two budget overrides in November, as well as on the district’s declining enrollment, meaning less funds will come from the state.
Superintendent Steve Adolph originally prepared board members for a much larger budget shortfall, but later said the situation was not as bad as he originally anticipated, partially due to decreases in both the district’s state retirement contribution and in health insurance premiums.
However, the budget process has not been without controversy, starting in April with passage of an early retirement package that cut retiree health benefits for employees who did not retire this year.
Officials say that package saved the district some $1.6 million.
In addition, all five board members have expressed reservations about other details in the budget — specifically, the increased activity fees
Most members, however, were convinced to vote for the proposal after high school principals assured them they would help pay for the fees for any needy students, said district spokeswoman Linda Littell.
Board members were also concerned about a provision that will delay the hiring a new associate superintendent, in order to save about $110,000.
They worried that Adolph would not be able to take on the responsibilities of that job, especially at a time when they want him to be out in the community, aggressively advocating for passage of a budget override in November.
On Monday, the board agreed to the provision, but directed the school district to create a plan for recruiting candidates to the position later this year, assuming the budget override passes.