Council to consider budget

However, some residents have raised a number of questions as to whether unification has been successful and point to matters they perceive as problems over the past three years.

Debbie Stephens has four children attending classes in the KUSD.

She has a daughter at Kingman High School North and two sons and a daughter at Hualapai Elementary School.

"I thought the main reason to unify was so everyone could have the same calendar, but they don't do that," Stephens said.

"They changed two of the schools (Cerbat and Palo Christi) to year-round and let the south campus of the high school stay on trimesters instead of going to a semester schedule."

Ford said the district governing board voted to allow Cerbat and Palo Christi to go to modified year-round schedules on the recommendation of their principals.

The idea was to see if it would improve academics, and the changes will not be incorporated at other schools until such time as there is proof it works, he said.

He added the south campus of Kingman High was on a trimester schedule before unification and may switch to semesters if and when it becomes a four-year school.

Elaine Lancaster is raising two grandchildren that attend Hualapai Elementary.

She is unhappy with a May decision of the governing board to eliminate all 29 teacher assistant positions.

"Those aides used to provide help in kindergarten, first and second grades, levels where teachers need more help with the smaller children," Lancaster said.

"The teachers now must spend more time with those children needing extra attention and less with the others.

"Why can't they make cuts in administration? With all the people they have there, you'd think they could make cuts there and divert more dollars into the classrooms."

Linda Hill recently retired after 35 years in the KESD and KUSD, working 11 years as a teacher and 24 as a librarian.

"Unification has not been good for the elementary schools," she said.

"It seems like whenever you have a K-12 system, the needs of the high school run the district.

"We've told them in the past that primary students require a different type of teaching and different levels of staffing than do secondary students, which is why losing teaching assistants is going to hurt the elementary schools."

After those cuts were announced, Ford said they were necessary because the district experienced just 1 percent growth instead of the 5 percent growth projected this past fiscal year.

The less-than-expected growth rate means about $700,000 less in state education assistance next year.

Ford added that one counselor was re-assigned at the elementary level to open up a teaching position, leaving two counselors to cover the schools.

Librarians in schools may be reassigned as classroom teachers at the discretion of the building principal, he said.

"After unifying, one thing we did the first couple of years was try to protect everyone's job," Ford said.

"We've been right sizing the past year and have reduced in the administrative areas.

"Some of the reduction has been through attrition.

But we also now have teachers on assignment instead of assistant principals, have combined special education directors and reduced a technical director's position."

Sherry Taras had two children in the KUSD.

One graduated in 2001, and the other left school this past year.

"I was gung-ho for unification because we were told it would do this and that for the children," Taras said.

"But we've had nothing except cut, scalp and hurt.

"I worked for the district when it was the KESD.

I was eligible for holidays and got them, but when unification took place, they were taken away and we got nothing.

"It drove people to tears.

The little people working less than 30 hours per week were brought down to nothing."

Ford said 2-month employees in the KESD had 15 paid holidays prior to unification.

After unifying the districts, all employees had 12 paid holidays.

Terri McMullen has a son and daughter attending KHS North and two boys at Hualapai Elementary.

She said unification has been a bad deal.

"As far as I can see, the elementary level was doing fine and the high school was having trouble with finances," McMullen said.

"Now we're in the red.

"I used to work at Hualapai before unification as a special education assistant, and there were always supplies and things provided for the kids, whereas now teachers are paying for them out of their own pockets."

Ford contends that the high school was actually in better financial shape than the elementary district at the time of the merger.KINGMAN – The city budget is the focus of a 4 p.m.

Monday, June 21, work session of the Kingman City Council.

The changes in the budget that have been suggested in previous meetings will be confirmed at the work session.

The spending limits will be set by resolution in the 7 p.m.

regular council meeting.

The Council has proposed a $7,500,000 construction item that would include the Airway Avenue underpass and other construction primarily for streets.

Several funding sources are being explored, including some private capital from developers in that area.