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TUSD board OKs budget

’07-’08 plan totals $376M; panel also approves audit, $500,000 for arts program

The Tucson Unified School District governing board approved a $376 million budget on a 4-1 vote Tuesday night, adding money to an arts program and agreeing to pay for a district audit.

The board agreed to provide $500,000 this fiscal year to Opening Minds through the Arts, a home-grown program proven to increase reading, writing and math test scores through music and art education. The budget initially called for only $183,000.

Last year, OMA was budgeted $523,435, but also got $300,000 in gifts and donations and more from tax credits and federal funds, TUSD spokeswoman Chyrl Hill Lander said.

This year, the initial plan was to fund OMA through an override election, but the board has since decided against seeking an override this year.

The board also allowed for up to $250,000 for a district audit. The district has been criticized for lax financial oversight recently and the audit is an effort to rebuild trust, board members said.

The two changes were proposed by board member Bruce Burke.

The vote was 4-1 for a budget about 2.6 percent higher than last fiscal year. Board member Judy Burns was opposed.

Although the budget is set for the 2007-2008 fiscal year, which began July 1, the board still has discretion on where to allocate money.

The desegregation budget will rise about 2 percent from $56.9 million to $58 million. The money for desegregation comes from the state and is used by the district to comply with a nearly 30-year-old federal court order to desegregate TUSD schools.

The board also voted for a property tax increase that would mean owners of a $200,000 home would pay $480 next year, compared to $462 this year.

That vote was three in favor, Burns opposed and board member Adelita Grijalva absent for the vote because she had left the meeting briefly.



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