Helios Grant to YUHSD Increases to $4.34 Million



2013-07-10 20:58:01

The Yuma Union High School District recently received an additional $440,000 from the Helios Education Foundation, which will be tacked on to the existing $3.9 million Ready Now Yuma Implementation Grant awarded to the district in 2012.

Superintendent Toni Badone said at a board meeting Wednesday that Helios as well as YUHSD staff recognized the need for additional funds to help with a long-term evaluation of the Ready Now Yuma initiative and also to increase communication and marketing projects.

Associate Superintendent James Sheldahl said that the dollars will allow the district to better document the systems they have in place as well as the errors and successes they have encountered along the way. He noted that by doing this, other districts will have the opportunity to replicate what YUHSD has done with Ready Now Yuma on their campuses.

“We should all be about educating everyone. We’re in public education,” he said. “So if we can share our successes and document them for others, that’s what we want. Clearly, that’s what Helios is all about as far as their investments, they want their investments to be able to be replicated.”

The Institute for Social Research out of the University of Michigan will be conducting the district’s evaluation. During the process, he said, researchers will be interviewing stakeholders, parents, teachers and students as well as conducting classroom visits to determine how effective the district’s professional development has been.

Sheldahl also said that the dollars will better help the district better communicate its Ready Now Yuma implementation journey with the media.

“As we build our culture in our district, we want to bring our community along with us,” he commented.

In other meeting news, the governing board adopted a final $67.6 million budget, which administration noted is less compared to last year in areas of maintenance and operation funds but an increase in capital dollars.

Financial services director Dianne Cordery said that their maintenance and operations budget is $55,156,330; a reduction of over $98,000 from last year. While their capital dollars increased from $8.6 million to $12.4 million when the state combined soft capital into unrestricted capital to become one District Additional Assistance fund.

Cordery shared that at the campus level, they were able to increase school budgets from $31 a student to $40 per student. She added that in addition, campuses will be receiving $25 per student from capital monies as opposed to the flat $25,000 per campus given in the past.

“We have a big variation in our student population at each school and so it’s kind of unfair to have $25,000 at every school, so we’ve tried to even that out a little bit,” said Cordery, noting that those dollars can be used for campuses to purchase things like desks, copiers and technology equipment.

Additionally for the upcoming school year, the district will be purchasing five new school buses. Cordery explained that buses are desperately needed in the district as the average age of the buses is 23 years.

The district’s Proposition 301 budget also increased from about $5 million to $6 million for the upcoming school year.