To accomplish that goal, I must provide the leadership necessary for all departments in the District to improve continuously. Continuous improvement is only possible when all in the organization share a commitment to a common vision. That commitment is accomplished through constant communication of our vision, Kids First, combined with earning trust daily through our actions, having personal regard for all, and staying positive, always, even when you feel like screaming. (c:=
Most experts agree that while money can be a short-term motivator, it is really a dissatisfier. Put another way, when people lose buying power because their compensation does not keep pace with their everyday expenses, they have a tendency to become frustrated with their life situation.
All public school districts in Arizona are funded through a formula. An equalization process takes inequities into account because it recognizes tax rates in richer districts raise more dollars than those in poorer districts. In short, the basic dollars provided to districts are the same whether the child is in Florence or Scottsdale.
While all districts receive the basic formula dollars, some districts receive additional dollars because individual district voters have approved overrides. For example, we in Florence USD #1 are quite fortunate as our voters have approved overrides for the district for a very long time. Art Celaya, former Superintendent, recently told me he thought the District had been supported by an override since the 1960s.
Overrides have to be re-approved by the voters every five years. In recent years, the importance of override dollars has been magnified. Why, you might ask?
There are two major reasons:
- The downturn in the economy has caused a huge down turn in sales taxes which funds Prop. 301, which provides money for teachers based on the number of students enrolled in each district. In 2008/09, we received $259.35 per student while in 2010/11 we received $77.36 per student, a drop of 70.2%. Put another way, FUSD had approximately $1,365,000 less to educate our children.
- Arizona has reduced the basic funding formula; in 2008/09 state aid was $3,539.63 per student, while in 2010/11 we received $3,192.51, a decrease of 9.8%. Put another way, FUSD had approximately $2,603,400 less to educate our children.
We presently have just at 8,400 students in the district. When you combine the totals above you can easily see that today we have $3,968,400 less to work with that we did in 2008/09. In other terms, it is $466.87 per child less, and it is right at $4,000 less per employee.
Thus, while in the good times overrides were used to provide additional programs and support, now I think you can understand why override dollars are needed for districts to cover basic expenses.
Because of community support, we in FUSD are lucky compared to many districts. Over the last two years, while our staff has had salaries frozen, the district has been able to pick up increased insurance costs for our employees.
As you may be aware, we have become an acknowledged leader in Arizona in the use of technology to assist our students in learning. That aspect combined with exceptionally safe campuses in well led schools has allowed us to successfully recruit out of district students.
Part of my job as Superintendent is to provide personnel and programs that allow our children the opportunity to prosper into successful, well-rounded adults. That means providing great teaching in the core subjects, reading, writing, math, science and social studies, but it also means providing physical education, art, band, choir, orchestra, foreign language, electives, and athletics.
Building a budget in today’s world means cutting expenses and maximizing income. Over the last three years, FUSD has cut down to the point that all that is left is to cut people and programs. So far, we have been able to keep people and programs in place by maximizing income by inviting out-of-district students to join us. We have not overcrowded our schools, but we did generate over $1 million dollars last year in additional revenue.
We will absolutely continue to be aggressive in our budgeting program. However, I do want to emphasize, that it is only because of the override funds that the voters of FUSD have approved, that our students are able to experience the well-rounded program of studies and activities that they do.
On behalf of the Governing Board at Florence USD, I thank you, our families and communities, for your involvement in your school district, and for your support.