An emotional Paradise Valley USD board meeting surrounding budget shortfall, cuts

Nearly $14 million from an enrollment stabilization grant to help the district during the pandemic was accidentally not put back into the budget.
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 6:08 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Paradise Valley Unified School District held a school board meeting Thursday evening, talking about ways to address a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall.

That shortfall came because of a mistake in the district’s accounting books, after nearly $14 million from an enrollment stabilization grant that helped the district during the pandemic was accidentally not put back into the budget. A budget task force was created in June after the shortfall was discovered, and their original recommendations included cutting employee hours next year. Those were passed along to the district cabinet (which includes its assistant superintendents), and the cabinet came back with revisions which included reducing the number of social-emotional learning specialists (SELs) and instructional coach positions.

The Paradise Valley Education Association (PVEA) says they were never approached about these changes, and now some are processing the reality that jobs they love might not exist next year.

“It’s sad that there was going to be some revisions to these recommendations for cuts,” SEL specialist Samantha Barrale said. “I had a gut feeling that it was going to be my job. Why? Because mental health and any mental health profession is always on the back burner.”

“Some of these cuts are really extreme,” district parent Trevor Nelson added. “With two years of COVID learning and with gaps in learning, these teachers need all the support they can get. Taking away these instructional coaches is just a bad move. It impacts the students because they don’t have as much help as they need.”

Toward the end of the meeting, some board members shared their thoughts, with one saying that she does not want to get rid of these instructors. But she also said there is no way to cut this much money from the budget without going into salaries and benefits. Arizona’s Family will continue to update this developing story.