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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : local May 22, 2015

3/22/2014 2:04:00 PM
Mingus board to discuss budget override
Superintendent Paul Tighe
Superintendent Paul Tighe

Yvonne Gonzalez
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD - Mingus Union boardmembers willdecide Tuesday nightwhether to pursue a capital budget override this year.

Superintendent Paul Tighesaid he's going to ask board members for input on whether he should start gathering information going intothis year's general election.

"It's an opportunity for the board to talk about it and for me to gauge whether they want me to start pursuing that, or if they really think it's a bad time to even think about it," he said. "I'll get a read on the feelings of the board members."

He said the school has been operating at about $1 million less in capital funds than it had in 2008. Despite being able to find other ways, like loans, to fund campus improvements, Tighe said, the district is running out of options.

A 10-percent capital budget override would go toward replacing old buses, classroom desktop computers, textbooks, desks, and chairs. The override would cost taxpayers about $1.92 per month on a $100,000 home.

The board may decide not to pursue an override this year, but if they do, it is likely that they will work in cooperation with COCSD.

Mingus may seek a capital override, good for smaller purchase items, while Tighe said COCSD is going for a bond in order to repair and even replace some of its buildings.

"We believe that was part of the success of the override elections, was showing collaboration and cooperation between districts," he said.

About 17 acres of district land could be sold in order to avoid a capital improvement bond, and Tighe said he is asking the board to decide Tuesday on either tabling the issue, or moving forward with an appraisal.

Tighe said the land was donated and has belonged to the district for many years. It could be used for future expansion or a parking lot, depending on the school's growth and needs.

Teachers are going to get the first salary and benefits increase since state education funding dropped several years ago. With the exception of one-time payments, Tighe said teachers have been getting paid less and less for the same work.

A salary and benefits steering committee has been meeting since January to decide how to use the funds from a court-ordered, state-provided inflationary increase. Staff will see a 1-percent increase in salary and wages, with an unchanged benefits package.

"Realistically, if you look at inflation, teachers are making less money than they did five or six years ago," Tighe said. "Increases in compensation haven't kept up with inflation. It parallels funding for schools. We're doing more with less, and every employee is too, at their household level."

Board members are going to accept Dennis Chambers' retirement, starting at the end of the academic year. Chambers took up the joint transportation directors' position last fall.

"He's been eligible for a while," Tighe said. "If you continue to work, you actually start losing benefits."

The Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District decided during their recent board meeting to advertise the transportation director's position. Tighe said it remains unclear how the current fifty-fiftysplit will look next year, but he will be involved in the interview process.

"It's kind of open-ended right now as the what the level of sharing is going to be," he said.

Tighe said examining the budget is one piece of deciding what exactly the school needs from a director.The district is working to bridge a $129,000 dip in revenue, which Tighe mentioned to COCSD board members when they discussed advertising the posting.

"We're reexamining every cost just to make sure we're not being inefficient in any way and that we don't have any services we don't need," he said.

Aresolution against recreational marijuana legalization was hotly debated by the Cottonwood council this week, and is coming to Tuesday's Mingus board agenda.

Tighe said theresolution is nonbinding.

"It's our governing board saying we don't like legalization of marijuana for recreational use because we think it would increase marijuana use among kids," he said.

Mingus's Cindy Forsythe and Gear Up's Gretchen Wesbrock have been working together to coordinate next year's first Link Crew mentorship cycle, and will give an overview to the board.

Chad Scott is taking over as leadership director. Tighe said Jessica Jaramillo had run the program, but was recently called up for a one-year deployment.

Police recognition of valor, Students Christian Despain and Jerry Vojnick will receive police recognitions of valor during the meeting after having saved a fellow student from his flipped vehicle.

Find the full agenda at

Follow the reporter on Twitter @ymgonzal and Instagram @VerdeValleyNews

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