Gilbert Public Schools budget increasing, but tax rate expected to dip

Posted 6/8/22

Though the Arizona Legislature has yet to pass a state budget, Gilbert Public Schools pushed ahead June 7 with its preliminary budgets for fiscal year 2022-23.

The district will present a …

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Gilbert Public Schools budget increasing, but tax rate expected to dip

Though the Arizona Legislature has yet to pass a state budget, Gilbert Public Schools pushed ahead June 7 with its preliminary budgets for fiscal year 2022-23.

The district will present a maintenance and operations budget of $280.2 million and $44.16 million for unrestricted capital for approval at its June 21 public hearing.

The proposed budgets represent a $11.81 million increase in maintenance and operations, and a $1.67 million increase in unrestricted capital from the district’s latest revised budgets for fiscal year 2021-22.

Despite those increases, the district estimates its property tax rate will fall to $5.9112 per $100 in assessed valuation, a decrease of $0.118.

Business Services Assistant Superintendent Bonnie Betz said the district used Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposed budget in making its estimates for state funding.

“We are confident that the governor’s budget still represents the worst-case scenario [for funding],” Betz said.

Betz said the district cannot by state law present a final budget for approval that is different from the preliminary budget. However, once state funding is known, it can revise the budget during the fiscal year.

The district also continued its practice of projecting a loss of 400 students for the coming year as it built the budget. The actual changes will be reflected in the revised budgets during the school year.

The district projects an increase of $19 million in spending from the maintenance and operations budget, which pays for the day-to-day operations of the district, including most salaries. The increase includes $11 million in salary increases and some nondiscretionary increases, such as for insurance premiums.

To close that gap, the district plans to use some of its budget balance carry forward from the previous year’s budget, reallocate some expenses to other funds and increase the contribution from the Classroom Site Fund, money generated from a state education sales tax.

Betz said the budget moves have long-term sustainability for the district.

The average teacher salary in the district is estimated to grow to $63,799, an increase of 36.44% since fiscal year 2017-18, when Ducey launched his 20 by ’20 program to increase teacher pay by 20% over three years.


A district committee has created a handbook that outlines the district’s beliefs and practices as it comes to grading.

Krista Cox and Brandie Burton, the district’s curriculum, instruction and assessment directors for secondary and elementary levels, respectively, presented the committee’s work to the governing board during study session.

Cox said the district seeks grading in the district to have four essential elements:
  • equitable, so as to show consistency across classrooms, content areas and grade levels;
  • accurate, meaning they are skill-based, and not behavior-based, and reflect the student’s current level of proficiency;
  • specific, with policies that allow for students and families to understand the grade they earned; and
  • timely, with feedback so that students can improve performance.
The handbook will include recommendations on areas, such as retesting, homework and work that is missing, late or incomplete.

The plan is to implement the recommendations over the coming two school years, according to the presentation.

Grade reporting will continue to be A-F for secondary students with corresponding grade-point average numbers and weighted GPA numbers for advanced classes, Cox said.

Elementary students will have standards-based grades that rate proficiency of 4, or highly proficient, to 1, or minimally proficient, meaning, even with teacher assistance, the student shows little or no basic understanding of the material.

Other items

The board voted unanimously to extend Superintendent Shane McCord’s contract for three years through June 30, 2025, and give him performance-based pay for this year.

The board appointed Tracy Kukuk Smith as principal at Finley Farms Elementary School for the 2022-23 school year.