Students can expect to see more time with counselors, additional special-education teachers on campus and plans for foreign language classes now that three north East Valley school districts have formally adopted their budgets for the coming school year.
Here are some of the highlights of school budgets adopted last week:
One of the most significant parts of the Paradise Valley Unified School District’s $194.8 million maintenance and operations budget has to do with the way employees get raises. There are increases in longevity raises, which rewards teachers the longer they stay in the district, and incremental raises for teachers as they complete credit hours in continuing education, said Tom Elliott, assistant superintendent for business services.
The new raise policies act as incentives to keep experienced and valuable teachers in the classrooms, Elliott said.
There’s also $263,000 allocated to put career centers in the high schools that don’t have them and expand high school counseling programs, he said.
These funds will expand counselor contracts so each incoming high school student gets to meet one-on-one with a counselor, he said.
Paradise Valley is expecting its combined property tax rate to drop from last year’s $6.45 to $5.61 per $100 of a home’s assessed value.
A foreign language grant awarded to Desert Willow Elementary School has officials talking about adding Spanish instruction to all of the Cave Creek Unified School District elementary schools next year.
The $484,000, three-year federal grant also will let Desert Willow expand its foreign language immersion program. This program lets English-speaking students learn a foreign language by taking half of their classes in Spanish.
The Cave Creek Unified School District would like to add Spanish teachers to each of its five elementary schools, said Kent Frison, assistant superintendent for operations and finance.
It was too late to add the program to the district’s $35.8 million maintenance and operations budget this year, Frison said, so that program is something that will be studied further for next year.
Cave Creek estimates its property taxes will drop from last year’s $3.76 to $2.99 per $100 of assessed valuation. The tax rate will probably drop more once Christopher Verde — north Scottsdale’s school district without schools — is drawn into Cave Creek.
The additional homeowners paying into the district would lower the tax burden, Frison said.
The Fountain Hills Unified School District’s $13.8 million budget includes a 2.75 percent base salary hike for all staff members, said Tim Leedy, assistant superintendent for business and finance.
There’s also funding to add three teachers to the district’s payrolls.
One will be work with English Language Learners district-wide. There will also be two special education teachers hired: One at the high school and one at the middle school.
Fountain Hills is still determining its tax rate, but early estimates show it dropping from $4.68 to $3.90 per $100 of a home’s assessed value.