The Mesa Unified School District’s budget for 2003-04 school year eliminates 58 nonteaching jobs and amounts to a net decrease in take-home pay for most employees, yet is not as Draconian as officials feared when they first started looking at the numbers.
"We had a previous budget shortfall of $20 million," Chuck Essigs, special assistant to the superintendent, said Tuesday at the first hearing of the $478 million budget.
When Gov. Janet Napolitano signed the state budget into law one week ago, kindergarten through 12thgrade education programs were spared any funding cuts.
There also is additional funding, such as $1.7 million of anticipated Indian gaming revenue to be shared with the state.
But the district still has to cope with an $8 million shortfall due to a jump in required contributions to the statewide retirement fund and insurance costs.
The 58 administrative and classified positions were cut earlier this year. George Zeigler, the district’s director of financial services, said several of the affected employees retired from the district, while others were able to get other district positions.
Four employees are still looking for a place within the district’s 10,000-worker force, Zeigler said.
The budget for the upcoming year includes a 1.4 percent raise for all remaining district employees, but is not enough to cover the required increase in contributions to the state retirement fund.
The governing board is scheduled to formally adopt the budget — $12 million larger than last year’s — at a July 8 meeting.