Gilbert Public Schools spent $101.6 million of taxpayer money added to district coffers in 2022-23 through their 2019 approval of a 15% maintenance and operations override and $198 million in two bond issuances, officials said.
The money broke down as $34.8 million generated by the override, $60.76 million spent from the sale of bonds approved in 2015 and another $5.5 from 2019 bond sales.
The figures were presented at a Gilbert Public Schools work-study session Sept. 13 for the governing board and met a state legal requirement the district presents annually how it spent the extra taxpayer-approved money.
With two new members on the governing board, Associate Superintendent Bonnie Betz reviewed cumulative spending on the district’s maintenance and operations override and spending from its $98 million bond from 2015 and $100 million bond from 2019.
Most of the maintenance and operations override has been used to support salary growth for teachers and staff members. The override provided $24.3 million of the $49.3 million spent on that in 2022-23.
Other monies were spent on maintaining or reducing classroom sizes ($6.3 million), social workers and mental health counselors ($1.8 million), postsecondary advising, career explore and early college credit ($1.5 million), affordable access to arts, athletics and co-curricular activities ($800,000) and some academic programming ($100,000).
Money from the 2015 bonds was used on facility upgrades ($40.3 million), technology ($17.16 million), security ($8.5 million), transportation ($448,000) and the cost of issuance of the bonds ($303,000). The totals include money that has yet to be sent but has been encumbered.
From the 2019 bonds, money was spent on technology ($3.73 million) and transportation ($1.77 million).
Department heads reviewed for board members what the spend yielded for the district.
Technology used money on network infrastructure, an audio-visual refresh and devices for elementary school teachers, Jon Castelhano said. He also covered security upgrades including cameras and the district’s security operations center.
Transportation bought three 37-passenger special-education buses, two 54-passenger buses and two 84-passenger buses that are suitable for field trips as well as regular weekly routes, Trace Tolby said.
The facility upgrades were wide ranging across the district and included such items as walkways made compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act at three high schools, roofing at South Valley Junior High School and perimeter fencing in progress at South Valley Junior High School, Albert Dutchover said.
Despite the increased spending, the rising valuations of property in the district have allowed the tax rate to trend down over the past nine years.
The district also gave the governing board a preview of its master capital plan, which GPS plans to release later this week. Betz was joined by two members of the district’s architectural partner, Orcott Winslow, in presenting the preview to the board.
The plan will show a “facility condition index” for each campus that shows how close it is to needing to be addressed with upgrades, as well as an assessment of various factors affecting the learning environment, such as storage, flexible furniture and water access. It rated each from optimal to needs improvement.
Betz said the report will help guide how to prioritize the district’s future capital spending.
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