The Scottsdale Unified School District was forced to cut this year’s operating budget by about $854,000 after discovering a computer glitch overestimated enrollment by 226 students.
The shortfall means empty positions will go unfilled, supply budgets will be pared down and teachers probably won’t get extra incentives this year.
Scottsdale adopted a new computer system to count enrollment last year in order to remain compatible with state systems, said David Peterson, assistant superintendent of operations for the school district.
Instead, district officials noticed in December or January that their numbers were off from state counts, Peterson said.
So while Scottsdale originally thought it was up about 50 students last year, it was ultimately down 176, Peterson said.
“It’s kind of a big change. It’s a 226-student swing,” he said.
And since student enrollment is a big part of school district funding formulas, that’s a problem.
When the district adopted a $162.7 million maintenance and operations budget in July, officials thought they were down 70 students, Peterson said.
The board approved a revised budget of $161.8 million a few weeks ago, which was based on a larger budget increase from the legislature than officials anticipated and a decrease of 176 students, Peterson said. It’s not unusual for districts to revise their budgets in the fall because they have to adopt budget plans in early July, before the legislative session ends.
To make up the difference, the district is keeping a number of empty positions open, including teachers’ aides, maintenance staff and food services, Peterson said. Supply budgets are also being cut.
And while the district is honoring the 5.75 percent increase in teachers’ total compensation packages that was negotiated last year, the district won’t be able to add extra raises or teacher training days, Peterson said. (Note: An earlier version of this story contained innacurate information. It listed the increase as 5.25 percent.)
“Maybe they would have gotten an additional increase,” Peterson said. “We really would have liked to have those additional training days.”
Computer glitches included students who were counted full time but should have been counted halftime and students who were counted twice, Peterson said.
The software issues have been fixed and shouldn’t be a problem going forward, Peterson said. At this point, the Scottsdale district is down about 280 students from this time last year.
The Scottsdale Education Association didn’t return a call for comment.