Emotions ran high at the FMUSD board meeting and budget hearing on Tuesday May 5.   From reviewing contracts to discussing possible cut backs, the night was no picnic for the board or attendees.

Board members seemed reluctant to sign the 15 employee contracts because they were missing provisions for step increases, lane changes and longevity raises.  Contracts also included the possibility for a 5% decrease in pay. 

Superintendent Nicholas Bartlett explained the omission of the increases and provision for decrease was necessary because of the severe budget deficiency the district is facing.  He explained the district would rather be able to add the increases later rather than have to remove them.

During the discussion about the contracts, board members asked about the status of the nine teachers, not included above, who had received notice their contracts may not be renewed.  “[We will] try to provide positions for all current employees,” explained Bartlett, but the district will not know if they will be able to keep the nine employees in question until June.”

During the budget hearing, Bartlett became quite emotional over the possibility of having to close the school in Moccasin.  The small school teaches kindergarten through second grade and is an important part of the Moccasin community.  By closing the school, however, the district would save $150,000 per year, making it a viable option when facing a possible $360,000 plus deficit.  “I would never consider doing anything with the Moccasin School except for in a budget crisis,” Bartlett explained.     

Business manager Dorene Mudrow explained the state had allowed them to carry over 4% of their budget from years prior, adding up to $84,000.  The state recently informed Arizona districts, however, that the state might assume those funds to help balance their budget.

The district is trying to do everything it can to circumvent the devastating effects the budget deficit may have.  Unfortunately, the district will not know the severity of the budget deficit for some time.  The June board meeting should hold many answers and will hold many difficult decisions for board members.