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Schools bracing for Prop 100 impacts

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Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010 12:13 pm

Public schools around the state are awaiting the results of next week's Proposition 100 election so they'll know how much money they'll have in their budgets.

If the ballot measure is approved, the state sales tax would rise by one penny for three years. Two-thirds of the additional funding has been earmarked for education.

So, many districts and charter schools, including those in Ahwatukee Foothills, have put together two budgets: one in case the question passes and one if it fails.

There's a $5.8 million difference between those two options for the Kyrene School District. To make up that difference, the district expects to lay off 71 teachers, decrease compensation for remaining employees and use some savings, among other measures.

Reduction in force notices have gone out to 71 teachers assuming the worst: that the sales tax will fail, said Mark Knight, executive director of human resources. That reduction would also raise class sizes by an average of three students.

"If it passes, we believe we could call back a majority of those teachers," Knight said.

The district may not need to call back all 71 due to declining enrollment, Knight said. Also, due to the way reduction in force lists work, some teachers who were "RIFed" last year but didn't accept jobs when they came open this year could come back to the district if their hire dates are earlier than someone on this year's list.

The Tempe Union High School District is in better shape than many districts around the state due to growing enrollment, said district spokeswoman Linda Littell.

Still, the district is preparing two budgets. It expects to have a $1.8 million surplus if the tax is approved and a $3.8 million deficit if it fails.

Exactly how the district would cut its budget has yet to be determined, but the board would consider measures like reducing its teaching staff, reducing administrators and support staff, increasing extracurricular fees and reducing benefits packages, according to a worksheet provided by the district.

District schools aren't the only ones waiting for the election to finalize their budgets - charters would be affected, too.

Horizon Community Learning Center in Ahwatukee Foothills expects to have a deficit of $88 per student if the sales tax passes and $273 per student if it doesn't, said school spokeswoman Melissa Hartley. With 1,500 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, that translates to a $132,000 deficit with the tax and a $409,500 deficit if it doesn't pass.

Hartley didn't have a final budget for next year but said this year's budget was $10 million.

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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