AFN file

The Chandler Unified School District Governing Board on Wednesday night unanimously approved the adopted expenditure budget for fiscal year 2014-15, which saw an increase from the previous school year thanks to a bumped-up override.

The budget increased by 5.9 percent from $213.7 million to $225.7 million largely due in part to a 15 percent budget override.. The override totals almost $28.9 million.

The district has had a 10 percent override in place since 1989 but saw a l5-percent override shot down in 2012. However, the 5-percent increase was approved last year by gaining 56 percent of the votes, bringing the district to a 15 percent override.

“We’re basically using those extra funds … for security, to maintain the student-teacher ratio and really to get us back to the level of funding per student we had about five or six years ago prior to the recession,” board president Bob Rice said

In addition to maintaining teachers and keeping programs from being cut, the override is being spent on increased security for elementary schools, including hiring more security guards, installing a new master key system, new fencing and revamping classroom doors.

“We have some doors in classrooms that require the teacher to go outside to lock the door, which doesn’t make sense. In some situations, you don’t want the teacher to have to go outside to lock the door,” Rice said. “All those things are a little over $4 million in expenses.”

The maintenance and operations budget, used largely to pay teachers’ salaries, increased by a little over $13 million compared to last year. About $9.6 million of the increase came from the extra 5 percent in the override while an additional $800,000 resulted from increased enrollment. Along with the override, the tax rate increased from 6.46 to 7.30 or an increase of 84 cents per $100,000 assessed value.

The budget supports the district’s 10-year strategic plan called Journey 2020. Rice said the goal of Journey 2020 is to continue to improve student achievement as well as hire and retain the best staff possible.

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