Scottsdale Unified School District taxpayers will see their tax rate drop about 76 cents next year.
The combined primary and secondary school district tax rates are expected to go from $4.68 per $100 of assessed value in 2008 to $3.96 next year, David Peterson, the school district's assistant superintendent of operations, told the governing board during a budget presentation Tuesday.
The tax rate drop comes from a combination of two things. First, the Scottsdale district's assessed valuation went up 15 percent over last year, Peterson said.
Also, the district refinanced its bond debt last year and it's already making a difference in the secondary tax rate, Peterson said.
Refinancing will save taxpayers about $20 million over the life of the bonds, Peterson said.
Also discussed during Tuesday's budget presentation:
Arcadia, Chaparral and Desert Mountain high schools will each get a few more teachers next year than expected.
Arcadia and Chaparral's boost comes from filling extra open enrollment spots.
As of Thursday Arcadia had 344 students open-enrolled from other schools' attendance areas for the next school year, while Chaparral had 467. That's 220 more than was expected at Arcadia and 150 more than Chaparral anticipated.
The increased enrollment is also good news because it will increase the district's budget, although the funds for those students will lag a year, Peterson said.
Desert Mountain will get one more teaching position because so many students are taking zero hour, an extra class in the morning before the normal school day starts.
About a fourth of Desert Mountain's students are staying for seven periods, Peterson said.
However, the district may start charging for extra classes at all high schools because of their popularity. School districts don't get reimbursed more for students who take seven hours of classes a day instead of the standard six, Peterson said.
"We only get paid for kids to go to class for six hours," Peterson said. "We should have been (charging for zero hours) already, because other districts do that."
Spring is the earliest the district would start charging for zero hours, Peterson said.
Scottsdale has planned for a $168 million maintenance and operations budget for 2009, a 1.5 percent increase over this year's $165.5 million budget.
Health care costs will rise $412,282 for the district, which is a 4 percent increase over last year - and far lower than the 34 percent increase the district originally anticipated. An additional $2.2 million is budgeted in for employee raises, which includes 2.16 percent raises for teachers and 2 percent raises for other staff.
To save money, the district cut department spending and eliminated 65 positions through attrition and freezing some open positions, Peterson said. That includes five administrative positions, 40 certified teaching spots and 20 other jobs.
All that leaves the district with $440,000 in contingency funds.
"Basically our contingency is marginal," Peterson said.
The governing board is scheduled to have a public hearing on next year's budget July 1.