CUSD signs off on spending report for 2021-22 - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

CUSD signs off on spending report for 2021-22

October 15th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
CUSD signs off on spending report for 2021-22

By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

At first glance, it does not appear inflation added too much to the Chandler Unified School District budget for the current fiscal year as CUSD expects to spend $550 million – up $4 million from 2020-21.

District Chief Financial Officer Lana Berry said she did not immediately know how big a role inflation played in the higher total, but said it is significant.

It definitely impacted us in the diesel fuel,” Berry said. “It impacted our salaries. As you know, we gave a raise to classified staff in the second quarter last year, because we were not able to retain, or attract, especially in our classified arena and food service and crossing guards and paraprofessionals.

It impacted us on the food service side. The federal government put some supplements out there for food costs, we saw food costs go up like crazy. And you started to see the increase … in custodial supplies. We also started to see a big increase in the technology cost.”

As required by state law, Berry presented the district’s annual financial report during the Sept. 28 Governing Board meeting. CUSD is now the second largest school district in Arizona with an average daily membership of just under 42,300 students, behind Mesa Public Schools’ approximate 59,000 students.

CUSD’s per pupil cost is $12,981, but Berry said that number is skewed because part of the $84 million needed to build Arizona College Prep is included in this year’s budget. Berry said if you take out the special expenditures, CUSD is spending about $8,500 per pupil.

Berry said only 10.2% of the Maintenance and Operations Fund pays for administration. About 18.6% goes to supplies, utilities, transportation and food service. The rest, 71.19%, goes directly to the classroom.

The district in 2021-22 made a record amount on selling food to its students, $26.6 million. CUSD upgraded many of its high school kitchens so students would eat on campus instead of heading to nearby fast-food options.

Arizona College Prep High School students stayed to eat on campus 85% of the time. District kitchens brought in $26.6 million in revenue. Of that, $3.5 million will be used to upgrade more kitchens, including at middle and elementary schools.

CUSD served 7.1 million meals last fiscal year.

The Governing Board approved the annual financial report, which will be used by the state Auditor General in its annual report early next year on all Arizona districts’ spending. The report also will go to the federal government for computations on various forms of aid the district receives.

The Governing Board also heard a presentation on the metrics that will be used in evaluating CUSD’s performance.

District officials will bring back a couple of metrics it stopped using during the pandemic: chronic absences and student service volunteer hours.

They also plan to release school-by-school metric breakdowns for the first time. This will help leaders at each school know how they are either helping, or hurting, the district’s overall numbers.

“I think that’s going to be a game changer in terms of like how schools continue to use that data to kind of like target certain things,” board member Lindsay Love said.