BULLHEAD CITY — Members of the Colorado River Union High School District Board approved 2020-2021 fiscal year budgets for the district and Anderson Auto Center Fieldhouse on Saturday.
The CRUHSD board decided not to meet on a weekday this month so more residents could provide opinions and ask questions about how the district should handle instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Board members opted to start the upcoming school year with online learning beginning July 29. Even though Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered schools to stay closed until Aug. 17, distance learning — what CRUHSD is planning to offer exclusively at least until mid-August — is allowed.
Before that decision was made, board members sought ample public thought about what the district should prioritize for the upcoming school year besides COVID-19.
Dozens of people came to speak or at least watch that effort take place. CRUHSD Board President Kerry Burgess led the process.
Among requests: Increased transparency about such things as finances, curriculum and accountability for results that occur with various school and district programs and operations.
Another suggestion was to seek and provide more effective ways to recruit and retain teachers and staff.
Providing what one speaker described as “more equity” within the district also is considered important. School staffing and allocation of resources for student events more thoughtfully among the campuses were cited as some of the areas requiring more even-handedness.
Keeping in mind that each campus has its own culture needs to be considered in these decisions as well, said Darolene Brown, CRUHSD’s director of curriculum and instructional technology.
Board member Richard Cardone said student retention is key with other local educational alternatives. CRUHSD schools need to provide educational experiences that make families want their children attending one of them.
Security of the campuses also came up, such as updating locks on doors and making it more difficult to enter CRUHSD campuses.
The term isn’t exclusively relating to physical safety, however. Many people are worried about what’s going to happen, said Board member Lori Crampton.
“This is a very strange, awkward and unchartered time,” she said.
The list of suggestions will be looked over and pared down by the board soon.
The district budget of about $15.4 million was approved earlier this month but required a public hearing before final approval on Saturday.
The amount includes expenses that would be paid for with grants and other sources, not just local funds.
A second regular session of the Arizona State Legislature has been scheduled to begin Aug. 25. Before the start of the pandemic, legislators approved a baseline budget.
Officials with Colorado River Schools have noted that because of COVID-19, budget revisions eventually will need to be made as a result.
For example, Ducey announced last month that the state’s discretionary CARES Act money for education needs, $270 million, will be available to school districts for safety protocols, technology and to educate students who need to catch up on their studies as a result of the 2019-2020 school year being affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, according to previous reports.
The CRUHSD spending plan also notes that its primary tax rate is $1.85 per $100 in assessed value and is less than the roughly $2.17 rate charged during the previous fiscal year that ended June 30.
The secondary tax rate is $0.4732 per $100 in assessed value. Last fiscal year it was $0.4333.
Fieldhouse expenditures are estimated to be nearly $686,000 during this fiscal year, which started July 1, and revenues are anticipated to slightly exceed $778,500.
That would put the operation of the facility well into the black with an estimated profit of more than $92,500 during this fiscal year.
Actual expenditures were about $528,200 during its first year of operation. Revenues exceeded expenditures for the fieldhouse last year and totaled nearly $559,800.
In other business:
- After board members decided to start the upcoming school year with online instruction on July 29, the school year calendar was modified slightly by moving a teacher’s professional development day from Aug. 7 to Aug. 14.