The Camp Verde Unified School District was planning ahead while the cash-strapped state government debated where it wanted to make cuts, but district leaders warn more cuts are coming.
Waiting on the state was a lot like flying without a safety net, according to Superintendent Dan Brown, but the district is taking a conservative approach to budgeting issues.
The state told the district to expect between $250,000 and $300,000 in cuts to its soft capital fund this year, said Director of Operations Chris Schultz. Soft capital money is used for things like student desks, projectors and other equipment.
It’s looking to be a final number of around $277,000 in cuts, Schultz said, but the district planned ahead and prepared for this by not counting on that money when it drew up its budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year. The local cuts were part of $140 million withheld from school districts across the state, Schultz said.
“We were ready for that,” Schultz said. But the state is considering making even further cuts after the new year.
Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter is warning local districts to be prepared for anywhere between $350 million and $650 million in further statewide cuts this fiscal year.
“We’re working on getting prepared for that right now,” Schultz said. How much of a loss that means for Camp Verde will depend on how the final numbers from the state pan out.
Schultz said the district is taking its employees’ opinions very seriously while preparing for the expected cuts.
That means the district wants to consider what each department would cut if it could instead of just ordering cuts from the top.
“Our philosophy is that it’s the state that’s doing this to us,” Schultz said. “We don’t want to do this to [the staff]. We want to work with them and with what they’ve decided.”
To that end, Schultz said each department is being asked to make a list of priorities of what it would cut first if it had to.
Those lists will guide the district in making future budget recommendations to the school board, Schultz said.
Of course, something may still have to be negotiated. For instance, Schultz said.
“These are significant cuts,” Schultz said. “We’re trying to do this in the most rational way possible.”