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11/21/2012 6:01:00 AM
Kingman Unified will start budget from scratch
Zero-based practices with a 'nothing sacred' point of view expected
Wanda Hubbard, KUSD’s finance director, took a break from crunching numbers Tuesday to talk about the upcoming budget season.
Wanda Hubbard, KUSD’s finance director, took a break from crunching numbers Tuesday to talk about the upcoming budget season.

Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter

To deal with financial concerns created by low enrollment, years of state funding cuts and the failure of Prop 204, the Kingman Unified School District is going to start its budget from scratch in January.

Enrollment in one year defines funding for the next, and the district is down about 200 students this year. (The official 60th day enrollment this school year is 7,193, compared to 7,388 last year.) Those 195 students translate into an estimated $1 million worth of funding next year. Prop 204, which would've made the one-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2010 permanent, failed. It would've provided an estimated $3 million to $4 million in funding for KUSD.

Combine these factors with two years of deficit spending that depleted the district's savings and the $5 million to $6 million worth of state cuts over the last few years, and it's easy to see why district heads and the school board are ready to use zero-based practices to build the 2013-2014 district budget.

"Nothing is assumed and nothing is sacred," said KUSD Finance Director Wanda Hubbard of zero-based budgeting.

Every school and every program will be looked at and potentially changed, Hubbard said. Corresponding pros and cons to making changes will be considered as well. There's no guarantee anything will get changed, but there is a guarantee that each and every aspect of the district budget will get scrutinized.

The state Legislature reconvenes in mid-January. At that time, Gov. Jan Brewer is expected to release her budget. This gives Hubbard a window into the amount of money the district can expect to work with and allow the district to start creating its budget.

All is not doom and gloom, though. The state made an error in 2009 when counting the amount of students KUSD had.

"We had more students than the state gave us credit for," Hubbard said.

Now that the error has been caught, Hubbard must re-do the budgets from then to now in order to see exactly how much money the district is entitled to.

Though it's a rough number at this point, Hubbard is estimating that the error will be worth about $250,000 once the process of capturing it is done.

The board will hold its first roll-up-the-sleeves work session around the time Brewer releases her budget. If the board decides to make any changes, the community will need to be informed before they take effect. This will be done with town halls, notices mailed to homes and special meetings.

Zero-based budgeting is a complicated way to go about creating a budget, Hubbard said. And the district really doesn't have much time. Though the budget isn't due until July, KUSD needs to have things wrapped up in April if it hopes to start setting itself up with teacher and administration contracts for next year, Hubbard said.

That gives the board and the district a little more than two months starting in January to make everything happen.

Board member Jeri Brock is concerned.

"(We're) really going to have to do some serious cutting to get this budget stabilized," Brock said. She asked Hubbard to provide breakouts of all expenditures associated with every single program, school and piece of district infrastructure.

It's important to remember that nothing is set in stone and that it's too early to get alarmed, Brock said.

"We must go through everything," she said.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012
Article comment by: Joan Cathey-Koep

I no longer live in Arizona. I moved away 10 years ago. I substituted in an elementary school the size of Cerbat Elementary, approximately 600 + children enrolled. I was shocked to walk into the school office the first day and there was only a principal and one secretary. This is a school where the dollars go to the classroom and are not spent on high administration costs. The state philosophy is also different in that there biggest state agency is not the department of corrections. Hitting a child or not meeting their emotional, social, or academic needs is not tolerated. The teachers in Arizona would not and could not be licensed in this state because they do not have any child development courses as part of their educational requirements for a teaching degree. So the problem in the classroom goes straight up to the administration of the school board and even further up, to the state level of the Department of Education. Is it any wonder why the head start preschooler looses their educational edge by the third grade? You need to start with priorities, like the whole child. Not just the academic portion. I am very aware of the social issues that families face there as well. I lived and worked with children and families in that state for 15 years. Until priorities change, neither will the educational budget.

Posted: Thursday, November 22, 2012
Article comment by: Student Mom

I too am concerned about the budget crunch. Schools are always the bottom of everyone's budget - teachers and administrator's are paid too much, do not do the job, and so on. But for each and everyone of you who seem to know how to run the show when was the last time you stepped into a classroom, stopped by the district office, or just found out a fact before you jumped the gun and made false accusations. The school system is underfunded - the bottom line. teachers and administrators work far more days then contracted for - many of you go to work at 8:00 and come home by 5:00 -all school staff go in before school and stay several hours after, not including time at home and it is done for the love of the students, definitely not for the public who complain school staff is overpaid and have too many days off - Keep in mind this is not true - If anything work in the teaching field whether as an administrator or a teacher is an underappreciated unapid job that has to listen to people like you continually complain - perhaps it is time we all take an interest in the school and provide the support the schools need to ensure a quality education - The schools are the backbone of the community - If Kingman is going to grow supportingthe school is essential.

Posted: Thursday, November 22, 2012
Article comment by: M B

Attendance is down. I wonder why? Oh yeah, its because the parents that want there kids to get a real education are keeping them home and enrolling them online... What parent in there right mind would want them going to school in this school district. There is absolutely no control, the kids run the schools basically. The kids that want to get an education are too busy getting harrassed by the ones that don't.

Posted: Thursday, November 22, 2012
Article comment by: Well, Studen Mom

Unfortunattely is does take a community because of our Socialist mentality and the absentee parents who don't care enought about their own kids to look after them. The schools are not bursting and we still have one empty. We never had this stuff. When we wanted to play ball we found a vacant lot and used rocks for bases. We are turning our kids over to others to meet all their needs. We will pay the price.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: an ex teacher

You don't know the meaning of the school be crowded. In 1967, with BHC & LHC students attending Kingman HS, we had 1700 students in what is now Lee Williams HS. Most classes had 40 plus students. Of course, we were overpaid. I made $7000 a year. Another thing, Bullhead and Havasu didn't like each other and neither of them liked Kingman. Neither I nor the parents felt the students were shortchanged on their education. It isn't the size of the classes that matters, it the ability of the teacher to TEACH.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: Studen Mom

Are you serious. The schools are over crowded. The classrooms are bursting at the seems and you dont think its necessary to open Lee Williams.Sorry but thats the best thing that could have happened. Tighten the Belt....really cut the athletics programs. That is one of the best ways to keep kids out of trouble. KEEP THEM BUSY. Oh but im sure your the same one that complains about the "hoodlums" out there that need something more construction to do. The old saying is it takes a community to raise a child is not that far off. Too bad this community doesnt want to participate and make it a more kid friendly area. Also keep in mind that these kids are the ones that wil be paying into social security in order for you to continue to receive benefits. You would think everyone would get involved in making a difference in theirs lives, no matter the cost.. It can and does make a difference in yours.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: Just Sayin

@Sacred Cows Galore - Yes, I am a schoolteacher, but I do not get paid days off. I actually work on my days off and do not get paid. As a certified employee, I get paid only for my contracted days of work. Some classified staff members get paid for certain holidays, but certified staff members do not get paid for holidays. In addition, the retirement I will receive is only what is state mandated, unless an employee volunteers to participate in an outside retirement (I do so that I can pay my bills when I retire and not depend on others) - which we put into, and is not matched by the district. Were you aware that teachers (I believe all staff, but am not certain on that) have not seen a raise in 6 years, and probably won't for another year or so? So, in essence, I am on a fixed income too, and have had to battle rate increases just like every other Joe. As a schoolteacher, I did not vote for Prop 204 for reasons I will not mention. I believe in being fiscally responsible - which means, I would not have chosen to open Lee Williams either - What's done, is done. Now, it is decision-making time.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: Sacred Cows Galore

"Nothing is assumed and nothing is sacred," so states Ms Hubbard. I can think of several "sacred" things that will never be laid on the table:

Administrator's bloated salaries --
Sky high retirement packages --
Contributions to health care and other benefits --
and more paid days off than a third grader can count -- just to name a few.

Oh, that's right . . . the board can always just kick up the tax rate on us homeowners -- end of problem.

So, why all this hand-wringing, anyway? . . . Hmmm?

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: Just a Taxpayer

It's been what 25 or 30 years ago that when pushed on us the "lottery" was to pay for the schools and save us on property taxs! So what happened to all that money ???? Every time we go to a school program for our grandkids the first thing the school does is ask for cash because they NEED MORE STUFF, maybe the people in charge should take a HARD LOOK at the pay scale of the ones "in charge" Enough is Enough learn to live within your means the rest of us have to !!

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: just a fact

Gee, maybe they could open another new high school. Supt. Jacks, Board Members Carlin and Lucero pushed for opening Lee Williams HS. Doing that did cost additional money for administration,secretaries, nurse, librarian, janitors, utilities, etc. And Carlin wants to finish out Goodale's term. Hmm.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

I think that you should give the gov. a call and ask her how to cut the cost of teaching our children. I know she was against prop 204 as she is all tax increases. I'm sure she will be helpful. Or maybe give Mcgoo a call and see if he has a clue about anything that is going on in his state after his crusade against the president winds down. He may find the time to concern himself with the problems we face here in Arizona. I'm sure he thinks that the kid don't have to be genius to handle a gun in another senseless war in the middle east.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: Tighten the Belt

Enrollment is down 200 students and they open Lee Williams. Don't expect sympathy from the taxpayers. Unlike CA, AZ had enough sense to vote down a tax increase. During good times this district had no problem with extravagant spending including an all-weather track at the high school. Time to cut. Let's start with all the money that goes to maintaining an athletics program.

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