Mesa Unified School District to vote on $500 million in spending - East Valley Tribune: News

Mesa Unified School District to vote on $500 million in spending

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Posted: Monday, June 25, 2007 6:20 pm | Updated: 8:00 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Mesa Unified School District’s elected officials will vote Tuesday on a budget packed with more than $500 million in spending for next school year.

It remains unknown, however, exactly what those dollars will be spent on. The district plans to release copies of the proposed spending package to the school board today for the first time.

The Mesa district’s budget determines what property tax rate residents must pay.

District officials have not determined whether that rate will change when the new fiscal year begins July 1, said spokeswoman Kathy Bareiss.

One section of the district’s financial puzzle has come together: Mesa schools will lose $2.6 million from the state because enrollment counts show the district has lost about 500 students.

Salary negotiations between the Mesa Education Association, the teachers’ union, and the district have already secured teachers a 2 percent raise, said Kirk Hinsey, the association president.

The state Legislature last week decided to spend an additional $46 million on raises for public school teachers. That cash might add another 1 percent to Mesa educators’ raises, Hinsey said.

The district has waited until four days before the new fiscal year begins because the Legislature had not finalized the state’s budget, which determines exactly how much money the public schools have to operate, Bareiss said.

In fact, the Mesa school board will only vote on a preliminary version of the budget today; the vote on a finalized version of the budget is July 10.

Some districts approved their financial plans weeks ago. By waiting, Mesa’s teachers might benefit, Hinsey said.

Last year, when districts voted on their budgets early, lawmakers added extra cash for teachers at the last minute, Hinsey said. Those schools “lost out on some money that could have gone to salaries.”

Mesa district’s capital budget, for construction and equipment purchases, is already set.

The largest projects are replacing the heating and air conditioning systems at Hendrix and Kino junior high schools and Westwood High School, said Rich Michalek, district operations director. Each of the projects will cost about $1.5 million.

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