BULLHEAD CITY — The Colorado River Union High School District Governing Board tabled formal approval of the district’s 2018-19 budget until Friday morning to conform with Arizona state statutes on the district’s Truth in Taxation Hearing notice.
The public budget hearing was suspended at Monday night’s regular district meeting because the district’s hearing notice, published July 3 in the Mohave Valley Daily News, did not appear early enough to meet the required 10-day advance notice.
Under state law, Truth in Taxation Hearing notices must be published at least 10 days but not more than 20 days before the actual meeting.
The board gave tentative approval to an $13.84 million budget at its June 25 meeting. Business manager Roni Hart said she notified the Daily News the next day to reserve space for the notice and was told it couldn’t be published earlier than July 3. It was published that day, along with taxation hearing notices from the Bullhead City Elementary School District and the Mohave Valley Elementary School District.
The board set the public budget hearing for 7 a.m. Friday at the BCESD office at 1004 Hancock Road. The budget hearing — and whether or not to approve the budget — will be the lone item on the agenda.
Bullhead City resident Marc Goldstone noted that the district “went through the same issue in 2009,” in regards to publication of the hearing notice. He said every attention to detail should have been employed toward “not repeating that mistake. (The board has) got to learn from this stuff. The district didn’t learn.”
Goldstone saved his strongest criticism for Supt. Riley Frei, calling on the board to ask for his resignation.
“Every ship has a captain,” he said, likening Frei’s role as captain of the CRUHSD ship. He said the mistake cost the district $400,000 — it hasn’t cost the district anything yet — and told the board members they would be within their rights to ask Frei to repay that amount.
“You can also ask for his resignation,” he added.
Frei was not at Monday’s meeting; he was on a previously scheduled vacation.
“(He) didn’t even see fit to be here tonight,” Goldstone said.
Told by board President Kari Hoffman that Frei was on vacation, Goldstone replied, “How convenient.”
Hoffman deflected the blame from Frei and the district, noting that the Daily News was unable to print the notice before July 3.
After suspending the scheduled budget hearing, the board made relatively quick work of a light agenda.
Board members Hoffman, Kerry Burgess and Donna Williamson did spend some time discussing with Asst. Supt. Benji Hookstra and staff about the differences between ACT and AZ Merit standardized testing and which would better serve the students and faculty of the district.
Concerns about funding being tied to AZ Merit testing likely will keep the district under that umbrella — for now.
“Right now, we’re an AZ Merit school (district),” Williamson said.