Nearly $37 million budget OK’d for Apache Junction school district

Voting to approve the Apache Junction Unified School District budget at the July 10 meeting were, from left, Mike Weaver, Christa Rizzi, President Jodi Ehrlich and Vice President Dena Kimble. Board member Cami Garcia was absent. At right is Dr. Krista Anderson, AJUSD superintendent. (Photo by Richard H. Dyer, Independent Newsmedia)

The Apache Junction Unified School District has approved a nearly $37 million budget for fiscal year 2018-19 that includes a 12 percent increase in average annual pay for its teachers.

An average salary of $44,430 will be offered for teachers. Last year the average was $39,750, according to budget documents prepared by AJUSD Finance Director Cindy Reichert.

The budget is for $36,598,104, according to a spreadsheet of total expenditures by fund at the district’s website, ajusd.org.

Total expenditures by fund as listed in budget materials provided by the Apache Junction Unified School District.

The tax rate for the 2018-19 budget is 3.8758, the same as last year.

AJUSD Governing Board President Jodi Ehrlich said the budget was presented at the board’s June 12 meeting. She asked if there was any further discussion by board members.

“Other than thanking our staff and thanking Cindy for doing such a great job of putting it together, presenting it to the board in a way that we can understand, giving us the opportunity to ask questions and have our questions answered,” board member Christa Rizzi said.

“I think we’re doing a better job presenting it to the public and the community in a way that they can better understand it better than we have previously done it. So thank you for that,” she said.

“I agree. Thank you Cindy,” Vice-President Dena Kimble said.

Voting to approve the budget at the July 10 meeting were AJUSD Governing Board President Ehrlich, Vice President Kimble and members Mike Weaver and Mrs. Rizzi. Board member Cami Garcia was absent.

In other business, the board voted 4-0 to approve purchasing auditing services from Clifton Larson Allen in the amount of $29,500 per year for a five-year contract.

The board also voted 4-0 to rescind and nullify all current and past policies and, in a separate 4-0 vote, to adopt a policy manual that was developed with consulting assistance from the Arizona School Boards Association.

“A couple months ago we went through – for the first time in probably 10 years, 13 years – every single policy of our school district. ASBA made recommendations to update and change those policies,” President Ehrlich said.

Mrs. Rizzi suggested the board look at the policies more often, such as every five years.

At the end of the meeting, the AJUSD Governing Board voted to meet in a closed-door executive session to discuss performance pay for Superintendent Dr. Krista Anderson.

Dr. Anderson’s contract states that for the 2017-18 fiscal year the district was to pay her an annual base salary of $135,000 minus mandatory and voluntary deductions. Also, no less than 2 percent and no more than 6 percent of the superintendent’s annual base salary for that fiscal year is designated as “performance-based pay,” according to the contract at az01901895.schoolwires.net/Page/12128.

The contract also states the performance-based pay amount shall be payable only if and to the extent the superintendent satisfies the criteria for an award of performance pay. It states the superintendent shall have earned her performance based pay if a majority of the board members present and conducting the performance assessment agree the superintendent has earned overall ratings of outstanding or satisfactory) on four performance categories: Education, management, governing board and personnel.

AJUSD serves more than 3,600 students in a 217-square mile area that includes the city of Apache Junction, Gold Canyon, Peralta Trail, Queen Valley and the unincorporated areas of the Superstition Mountain foothills. Formed in 1952, the K-12 district has a focus on a “College Readiness For All” curriculum for every student in every grade. For more information call 480-982-1110, or visit ajusd.org or facebook.com/ajusd43.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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