Gilbert Edition-April 2021

GILBERT EDITION

VOLUME 3, ISSUE 8  APRIL 21MAY 18, 2021

ONLINE AT

HigleyUSD considering going for bond

IMPACTS

TOWN AND EDUCATION

SUFFER CITY

MORNING KICK

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Funding outlooks amid pandemic dier across town school districts

COVID19’s school budgeteects

While state and federal relief packages propped up school budgets through the 2020-21 school year, enrollment losses this year are likely to be felt in 2021-22 on maintenance and operations budgets, which fund salaries.

In the wake of the coronavirus pan- demic, the three school districts that serve Gilbert have lost enrollment this school year. Now districts must square that with funding that is reliant on stu- dent counts as they put together bud- gets for scal year 2021-22. And each has a dierent outlook. Gilbert Public Schools’ enrollment losses this year left the district with a surplus of teachers that led to the district being the rst in the state to announce layos of certied sta for next year. BY TOM BLODGETT AND ALEXA D’ANGELO

“It’s not a pleasant circumstance to have to communicate to our sta, for sure,” GPS governing board President Charles Santa Cruz said. “Enrollment is our driver, and this is yet another consequence of this pandemic.” On the other end of the spectrum, Higley USD lost 271 students from 2019-20 to 2020-21, mostly from kin- dergarten and preschool students, which receive half and no funding from the state, respectively. That meant the loss was 117 in average daily membership, or ADM. ADM is the total CONTINUED ON 12

SCHOOL M&O BUDGET COMPARISONS

Higley USD

Gilbert Public Schools

Chandler USD

$305.45M $317.48M

$260.5M

$252.26M

$104.48M

$95.83M

2020-21

2021-22 *

2020-21

2021-22 *

2020-21 2021-22 * *PROJECTED. FINAL APPROVAL IN JUNE

SOURCES: GILBERT PUBLIC SCHOOLS, HIGLEY USD, CHANDLER USDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

$18M#GilbertTogether programoers three tiers of COVID19 relief to small businesses

GILBERT’S AZCARES ALLOCATION The town of Gilbert received $29.2 million from the state under the AZCares relief program. The town has allocated $28.4 million of that to date.

$800K $400K

BY TOM BLODGETT

help to get through the pandemic, including a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration and a $35,000 business relief grant from the town of Gilbert. “The town of Gilbert grant was huge and right at the timewhenwe needed it themost,” Ruentine said. “It was a lifeline.” Garage-East was one of 437 town CONTINUED ON 14

Local businesses Public safety Nonprots Unallocated Direct resident assistance

$2M

Brian Ruentine, owner of Arizona wine bar Garage-East, said he gures his experi- ence in the past year has been like that of many business owners—a roller coaster of emotions that has been scary, challenging and dotted with silver linings from commu- nity support. Like many business owners across the nation, Ruentine relied on some outside

$11M

Relief grants

$8M

$5M

Recovery loans

$18M

$2M

Training/ mentorship

SOURCE: TOWN OF GILBERTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

ABOUT US

Owners John and Jennifer Garrett launched the rst edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 with three full-time employees covering Round Rock and Pugerville, Texas. We have expanded our operations to include hundreds of employees, our own printing operation and over 30 hyperlocal editions across three states. Our circulation is over 2 million residential mailboxes, and it grows each month with new residents and developments.

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMAMY: For more than a year now, individuals, businesses, education systems and governments have made adjustments due to COVID-19 and restrictions put in place related to the virus. Learn more from our cover story about how the town of Gilbert has distributed funds and how businesses have used the money they have received to move forward from the pandemic. Amy Ellsworth, PUBLISHER

Community Impact Newspaper teams include general managers, editors, reporters, graphic designers, sales account executives and sales support, all immersed and invested in the communities they serve. Our mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Our core values are Faith, Passion, Quality, Innovation and Integrity.

FROMTOM: Since the coronavirus pandemic rst hit, schools have had to make constant adjustments while keeping an eye on what the instability in enrollment would mean when it came time to put together a budget for scal year 2021-22. The time has come, and the answers are dierent in each of the three districts that serve Gilbert. We look at the landscape in each district in this month’s front-page story. Tom Blodgett, EDITOR

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GILBERT EDITION • APRIL 2021

DALUPE RD.

IMPACTS

E. ELLIOT RD.

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding

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Batch Cookie Shop

Burger King

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TOM BLODGETTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

TOM BLODGETTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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4 Burger King opened a location Dec. 23 at 4073 E. Williams Field Road, Gilbert, in The Post at Cooley Station development. The company is a multi- national chain of fast-food hamburger stores. 480-626-1299. www.bk.com 5 Cooley Station Dental Group and Cooley Station Kids’ Dentists & Ortho- dontics opened March 30 at 4049 E. Williams Field Road, Ste. 109, Gilbert, in The Post at Cooley Station development. Cooley Station Dental Group oers gen- eral dentistry and comprehensive spe- cialty services, including teledentistry, same-day dental crowns, whitening, oral surgery, wisdom teeth extraction, root canals, periodontics, digital charts, digi- tal X-rays and more. Cooley Station Kids’ Dentists & Orthodontics does pediatric services. 480-840-3600 (Cooley Station Dental Group), 480-867-4532 (Cooley Station Kids’ Dentists & Orthodontics). www.cooleystationdentalgroup.com, www.cooleystationkidsdentists.com 6 D.M. Bankruptcy Law Group opened Dec. 18 at 1425 S. Higley Road, Ste. 101, Gilbert. The rm helps people le Chap- ter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. 480-842-8786. http://azdebtattorney.com 7 Ono Hawaiian BBQ opened a location March 22 at 3135 S. Val Vista Drive, Gilbert. It is the ninth location in Arizona, 98th overall in California and Arizona, and 11th to open this year. It specializes in Hawaiian-inspired dishes. It opened with takeout and drive-thru service only. 480-426-1383. www.onohawaiianbbq.com 8 Phoenix Spine & Joint opened a location April 1 at 1760 E. Pecos Road, Gilbert. It does orthopedic evaluation,

tests and surgery. 602-256-2525. https://phoenixspineandjoint.com 9 A Salad and Go location opened March 10 at 1660 E. Pecos Road, Gilbert. The Gilbert-based chain with locations throughout the Phoenix area serves healthy, organic, ready-to-eat meals at aordable prices. This is the fourth loca- tion in Gilbert. www.saladandgo.com 10 Valvoline Instant Oil Change opened a location Dec. 5 at 3095 S. Val Vista Drive, Gilbert. It oers oil changes in 15 minutes while customers wait in their car and other preventive mainte- nance services. 602-325-0445. www.vioc.com COMING SOON 11 Apricot Lane Boutique plans to open April 22 at 1094 S. Gilbert Road, Ste. 104, Gilbert. It will sell women’s fashion apparel, jewelry, handbags, accessories and gifts. 480-262-5426. https://apricotlaneboutique.com/ store/gilbert 12 Cider Corps will open a location at 835 S. Gilbert Road, Gilbert, in the former Molino Home Furnishings building. The veteran-owned hard cidery has a location in Mesa and holds events to benet vet- erans in need. An opening date has not been announced. https://cidercorpsaz.com 13 Madison Reed a direct-to-consum- er hair color brand, is opening Madison Reed Hair Color Bar on April 29 at 2200 E. Williams Field Road, Ste. 101, Gilbert, in the SanTan Village shopping center. It will have salon-quality products and treatments and have professional col-

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E. GERMANN RD.

E. HUNT HWY. NOWOPEN 1 Ace Handyman Services Gilbert opened Feb. 22 at 1176 E. Warner Road, Ste. 102, Gilbert. The service company aliated with Ace Hardware Corp. specializes in minor home improvement projects and repairs. Some of the tasks it performs are drywall, door and tile repairs, toilet/faucet repair and hanging light xtures. 480-716-9800. www.acehandymanservices.com/ oces/gilbert 2 A location of AutoZone opened

HUNT HWY. Feb. 6 at 2481 S. Recker Road, Gilbert, in The Post at Cooley Station development. The auto parts store has free battery and check-engine light testing and loans tools on-site. 602-635-5982. www.autozone.com E. GERMANN RD. 3 Batch Cookie Shop opened April 9 at 1495 N. Higley Road, Gilbert, in the City Gate development. The family-owned shop makes gourmet cookies, does catering and has weekly community service challenges. 480-818-6454. www.batchcookieshop.com

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TODO LIST

Late April-May events

COMPILED BY TOM BLODGETT

APRIL 24 ESPORTS TOURNAMENT Gilbert Parks and Recreation will host a Super Smash Bros. tournament with 16 players in each round projected on to a big screen. While waiting to play, patrons can wait in the physical distance circles, picnic or get food from a food truck. 2-9 p.m. $25 (competitors), $5 (spectators). Gilbert Regional Park, 3005 E. Queen Creek Road, Gilbert. 480-503-6200. www.gilbertaz.gov MAY 01 NATIONAL FITNESS DAY FAMILY CHALLENGE Families can register for one of four heats and go head to head with other families in 10 dierent circuits. Circuits will include push-ups, beach ball volley, jumping jacks, splash ball toss, sprint relays and more. Prizes will be awarded to the winners, and all participants will get a Maui Wowi smoothie, as the food truck will be on-site. 8-10 a.m. $10. Gilbert Regional Park, 3005 E. Queen Creek Road, Gilbert. 480-503-6200. www.gilbertaz.gov

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Madison Reed Hair Color Bar

TOM BLODGETTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

TOM BLODGETTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

16 Tiger-Rock Martial Arts of Gilbert anticipates opening April 26 at 2530 S. Val Vista Drive, Ste. 101, Gilbert. It is part of international chain of taekwondo academies. 480-207-1000. www.gilberttr.com RELOCATIONS 17 Brick City Fab moved from Mesa to a shop at 1420 N. Mondel Drive, Gilbert, on March 24. It does metal fabrication for accessories to utility terrain vehicles. 480-822-0973. www.brickcityfab-az.com 18 My Perfect Skin Clinic moved March 15 from a location at Val Vista Drive and Baseline Road to 1757 E. Baseline Road, Ste. 111, Gilbert. It oers a number of skin care treatments, including for acne and anti-aging. 602-845-9760. www.myperfectskinclinic.com

orists available for free color-matching consultations. 480-613-3273.

ROBOTS, ROCKETS AND RACERS

www.madison-reed.com/ colorbar/locations/gilbert

MAY 4

Students from Gilbert Classical Academy will instruct children on building STEM projects. Participants will code a robot they can move through an obstacle course, make bottle rockets and construct assorted vehicles to race down a ramp. Ages 8-13. 6-7 p.m. Free (registration required). HD South, 10 S. Gilbert Road, Gilbert. 480-926-1577. https://hdsouth.org

14 Quick Quack Car Wash will open a location at 1720 E. Pecos Road, Gilbert. The business promises a “car wash show full of lights and colors” and a “green and clean” Earth-friendly wash. No opening date has been announced. 888-772-2792. www.dontdrivedirty.com 15 Salt Tacos y Tequila will open a sec- ond restaurant at 2206 E. Williams Field Road, Ste. 101, Gilbert, in the SanTan Village shopping center later in 2021. No opening date has been announced. The restaurant’s rst location is in Glendale. It serves modern Mexican cuisine, a variety of handcrafted margaritas and more than 150 types of tequila. https://saltglendale.com

Find more or submit Gilbert events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.

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GILBERT EDITION • APRIL 2021

E. BASELINE RD.

E. GUADALUPE RD. TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY TOM BLODGETT

E. ELLIOT RD.

ONGOING PROJECTS 1 Recker Road improvements

3 Germann Road improvements Improvements are designed for major arterial roadway standards, including six lanes, a raised median, sidewalks, bike lanes, streetlights and traffic signals. The project will also include Lindsay Road improvements between Loop 202-Santan Freeway and one-quarter mile south of Germann Road. Status: Construction is under way on northbound Lindsay. Timeline: October 2020-January 2022 Cost: $27.43 million Funding sources: town of Gilbert, Maricopa Association of Governments, developer contri- butions 4 Lindsay Road traffic interchange A full-access traffic interchange is being con- structed at Lindsay Road and Loop 202-Santan Freeway to provide freeway access and a front- age road system on the north side of the freeway between Lindsay Road and Gilbert Road. Status: Construction is under way on northbound Lindsay. Timeline: January 2021-February 2022 Cost: $18.15 million Funding sources: town of Gilbert, Maricopa Association of Governments ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF APRIL 15. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT GILNEWS@COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

E. WARNER RD.

The project is to improve Recker Road to minor arterial standards, including four lanes, a raised median, landscaping, bike lanes, sidewalks and streetlights. Status: Construction is approximately 60% com- plete. All base paving is complete. The town is in negotiations for Surety Co. to complete the proj- ect. The town anticipates work to resume in late spring and last four months. In the meantime, areas of incomplete work have been secured with traffic control in place. Timeline: January 2020-fall 2021 Cost: $3.94 million Funding sources: town of Gilbert, Maricopa Asso- ciation of Governments, developer contributions 2 Val Vista Drive widening The project improves Val Vista Drive to a major arterial roadway with three lanes in each direc- tion with a raised median. Status : Traffic restrictions are one lane in each direction. Base paving has started for the curb lane north and south from Ocotillo to Appleby. The project is approximately 75% complete. Timeline: March 2020-August 2021 Cost: $34.28 million Funding sources: town of Gilbert, Maricopa Association of Governments, developer contributions

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TOWN&EDUCATION

News from Gilbert, Gilbert Public Schools, Higley USD & Chandler USD

MEETINGSWE COVER Gilbert Town Council May 4, 18, 6:30 p.m 50 E. Civic Center Drive, Gilbert 480-503-6871 • www.gilbertaz.gov Gilbert Public Schools Board April 27, 6 p.m. May 4, 18, 6 p.m. 140 S. Gilbert Road, Gilbert 480-497-3300 www.gilbertschools.net Higley USD Board April 21, 5 p.m. May 12, 4 p.m. May 19, 5 p.m. 2935 S. Recker Road, Gilbert 480-279-7000 • www.husd.org Chandler USD Board April 28, May 12, 7 p.m. 1525 W. Frye Road, Chandler 480-812-7000 • www.cusd80.com Follow us on Twitter: @impactnews_gil board voted March 24 to give teachers and sta a 2.5% raise for the 2021-22 school year. Additionally, the entry level and top level of each salary schedule will increase by 1.5% for cost of living. SCHOOLHIGHLIGHTS GILBERTPUBLIC SCHOOLS The governing board unanimously approved March 30 closing Houston Elementary School, which was experiencing declining enrollment for several years. The board unanimously approved the expansion of the Burk Elementary School boundaries to include the former Houston boundaries and the move of Neely Traditional Academy from its current campus to the Houston campus starting with the 2021-22 school year. HIGLEYUSD The governing board unanimously approved April 7 a tentative unrestricted capital budget of $22.55 million for scal year 2021-22. Final approval would come in June. CHANDLERUSD The governing

Board reviews $95million bond proposal for fall

BOND USES Higley USD’s initial plan for a bond breaks down over seven categories.

BY TOM BLODGETT

the property tax rate in the district about $0.14 per $100 assessed valua- tion in the rst year, then stay at or decline in future years, Gadd said. Gadd said purchasing one of the middle schools, both of which have $32 million in principal remaining, would save the district taxpayers $21.7 million over time. He also strongly recommended having money available to purchase land so the district would have the exibility should it need to put up another school in the growing area north of Pecos Road.

HIGLEYUSD The governing board reviewed at its April 7 meeting a district proposal to run a $95 million capital bond before voters in the fall. Among the varied allocations of it, the bond could pay for purchasing one of the district’s two middle schools, both of which are on a lease, and buying land for a possible future school site in the district’s growing northern half, acting Chief Financial Ocer Je Gadd said. If put on the ballot for November and passed, the bond would increase

$32M Possible lease/ purchase

$27M Major projects

$15.5M Technology, safety/ security

$95M total

$2.5M Land purchase

$3.5M Transportation

$11M Major maintenance

$3.5M Contingency

SOURCE: HIGLEY USDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Town recommending, notmandating, masks in its facilities, at public events

Governing board selects Narducci for interim superintendent position

BY TOM BLODGETT

the town. Public transit riders must continue to wear masks under a federal mandate.

BY ALEXA D’ ANGELO

GILBERT The town will rec- ommend but not mandate the wearing of face masks in its facili- ties and at events, Mayor Brigette Peterson said in a statement. Peterson’s statement, issued March 30 in response to Gov. Doug Ducey’s March 25 executive order ending government-mandated masks in Arizona, said the town will continue to oer online services and online participation for Town Council meetings. Peterson further stated that the governor’s order allows private businesses to determine and implement their own mitigation measures, including face coverings and distance requirements outside of any oversight or authority by

CHANDLER USD The gov- erning board

announced April 7 that

Frank Narducci would succeed Camille Casteel as the dis- trict’s interim superintendent beginning this summer.

Brigette Peterson

Peterson said she hoped residents are closer to returning to their prepandemic lives and urged them to continue to take precautions. “I am sincerely grateful to our community members who have helped to slow the spread and who continue to respect the dierent perspectives and needs of individ- uals and businesses,” she said.

Frank Narducci

“I am honored to continue to serve our students, sta and families during this transition time,” Narducci said. Narducci has served Chandler USD as the assistant superintendent of elementary schools since 2012 and has worked in the district since 1996.

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GILBERT EDITION • APRIL 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

BUSINESS FEATURE

BY TOM BLODGETT

Jason France (center) credits his small team, including Anna Hernandez (left) and Danielle Martin, for Suer City’s success. (Photos by Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Jason France said he has seen t customers come in but not be willing to put in the work that Suer City requires. However, he said people of all skill levels are capable of doing it if they are willing to put in the eort.

Suer City 263 E. Warner Road, Ste. C103 480-404-0673 https://suercityaz.com Hours: 5 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 5 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Fri., 6-10 a.m. Sat., closed Sun. PUTTING IN THEWORK Here are some key metrics for Suer City: 48 classes a week 12 students per class 100 members approximately

Suer City Training center owner has learned how to overcome through hard work J ason France says his Suer City is not a gym, but a train- ing center. That distinction is important to a customer walking in wanting to achieve something.

“You got to start with suering, but here’s the beauty of it: You can overcome,’” France said. “That’s the story of the hero.” France has learned these lessons rsthand. Born to teen parents, he lived in an unstable situation growing up. He lost his father and a 3-year-old half-sister while growing up. He was on his own by age 17. A promising baseball player and musician, he said he washed out of both and pursued a life of pleasure, indulging in drugs and alcohol. He gures he was close to doing some- thing harmful to himself. Instead, he committed to the Marine Corps at age 23 in 2003. “My intent was to go as deep as I

could to gure out as much as I could nd about myself, about the world,” he said. He served in Iraq as a rieman, then joined special operations command and was selected in 2007 to be part of a force modernization team that got him into the health and performance sphere. Ironically, a health issue ended his Marine service. He eventually got into work personal training at a big gym, then out of his apartment before opening his own place. “If you go there and walk in that door three, four days a week, you can’t not, you just can’t not, get the result you’re after,” he said “You can’t walk in that door and not put in the work. You can’t hide in there.”

“There must be these metabolic and physiological eects that are met, and they’re mathematical,” France said. “They’re scientic. They’re biological. They’re chemical, but they all come together to achieve a particular eect. And that eect dictates whether or not you get the result. That eect is not easy to achieve.” That in a nutshell is why France calls his training center Suer City. It is truth in advertising for the person willing to come in three or four times a week to achieve tness goals.

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GILBERT EDITION • APRIL 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

BEST SELLER The Cowboy ($10.25) is the “All-American breakfast wrapped in a tortilla with tots,” Mindy Waldron said. It has been the top seller on the menu from the beginning. Morning Kick sold 9,387 Cowboys in 2020, “a rough year.”

In addition to cold brew and hot-drip coee, Morning Kick serves a variety of Lotus energy drinks.

DINING FEATURE

The Cowboy has bacon, seasoned tots, eggs, and cheddar and Monterey cheeses. (Photos by Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

MorningKick Casserole gives rise to food truck, which gives rise to restaurant A n 18-month-old picky eater, a grandma and a joke were the ingredients that changed the careers of Mindy and Scott Waldron. casseroles in favor of burritos—big ones, weighing nearly a pound each. Making use of crispy tater tots, they became the signature dish, Mindy said. Morning Kick Casserole became just Morning Kick. They even expanded to a second food truck but eventually sold it to put the money into the brick- and-mortar restaurant, which opened Jan. 22, 2020— BY TOM BLODGETT

Mindy had been a teacher and was moving toward a career in real estate while Scott worked in catering. Son Cayson was so picky that his doctor kept close watch on his weight. He just did not like anything, Mindy said. “One day, grandma made a casserole, a breakfast casserole on Christmas morning, and he ate it all,” she said. “And we said, ‘hey, we need that recipe because he likes that. I’ll make it all the time.’” And she did, despite an hour of prep time and an hour of baking for each casserole. That prompted Mindy to joke one day they should start a food truck o it and make some money. Turns out, it was no joke. They rented a commissary kitchen and found an old ice cream truck in Tucson they could use to keep the food hot and sell it at events under the name Morning Kick Casserole. Once they were accepted into the Gilbert Farmers Market, they were selling out of the casserole and needing a bigger truck with a full kitchen. They also had to ditch the labor-intensive

Mindy and Scott Waldron had no investors and did much of the refurbishments and painting themselves.

two months before the COVID-19 shutdown. “We were like, ‘what do we do now?’” Mindy said. “’What on earth do we do?’ We just put all this money into this business. And it’s just going to sit here.’” Scott’s solution was to operate from the food truck parked in back of the restaurant and schedule pickup times every ve minutes. It saved the business, Mindy said. The customers who created lines out the door when they opened kept supporting them. Eventually, they were busy enough to return inside for takeout and patio dining. The dining room nally reopened in March. The food truck continues to serve at events and on Saturdays at the Gilbert Farmers Market. The customers follow them wherever, Scott said. “If the lines are too long at the farmers market, we have people who drive a half hour to the restaurant,” he said. “They just want that food.”

MorningKick 3076 E. Chandler Heights Road, Ste. 101, Gilbert 480-597-3545 http://morningkickaz.com Hours: Wed.-Thu. 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Fri. 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 7 a.m.-1 p.m., closed Mon.-Tue.

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GILBERT EDITION • APRIL 2021

Comparing thenumbers The three school districts that serve Gilbert are in dierent positions with their enrollments and budgets entering scal year 2021-22.

attrition, the district will navigate the pandemic without any reduction in force from the pandemic. State Rep. Jennifer Pawlik, DChan- dler, said she feels terrible for the nancial situation putting teachers, like those from GPS, at risk of losing their jobs. “We are certainly in almost a per- fect storm because there are so many layers to this,” Pawlik said. “We have kids that didn’t come back to their schools this fall, and enrollment numbers are down. But the other issue is that before we recessed last spring, we passed the enrollment sta- bilization grant that was intended to hold districts harmless if enrollment dipped below 2%, the most districts would lose would be 2%. In January, the governor announced new num- bers. That’s a really big deal. Gil- bert [Public Schools] was expecting around $34 million in those enroll- ment stabilization grants but got $14 million.” GPS layos GPS laid o 152 teachers March 26 in response to a projected maintenance and operations budget decrease of $8.24 million for scal year 2021-22. Those layos came after the losses of 1,344 students this scal year and the projected loss of another 400 next school year. “With a district that really speaks often about how we’re a family, that we’re part of the GPS family, you know, that’s a big chunk of our fam- ily,” said Heather Schlemmer, a spe- cial education teacher at Gilbert High School who was not among those cut. The news came as a surprise to the Gilbert Education Association, which represents district teachers, GEA President Amber Franco said. Franco said the association has turned its eorts to supporting the teachers in transition and understanding how

decisions were made. Business Services Assistant Super- intendent Bonnie Betz said the layos were necessary due to overstang for the district’s declining student popu- lation, given the student-to-teacher ratios the district historically has used to make those decisions. She said the district survived enrollment losses this year because of federal and state aid that paid for pandemic-re- lated costs and propped up the extra salaries in the district. But that aid was from one-time funding and could not sustain those positions. That aid included $2.36 million in the rst round and $9.72 million in the second round of the federal Ele- mentary and Secondary School Emer- gency Relief, or ESSER, funding, plus a $14.3 million enrollment stabiliza- tion grant from the state. Although more aid may come, too, from a third round of federal money and more-than-anticipated sales tax collection, those are also one-time payments best used on one-time costs, Betz said. “If we were to spend money to maintain sta, we would be doing what we did in the current year here again next year,” Betz said. “We would just be kicking the can down the road because that particular plan is not sustainable.” However, next year’s budget does include 2% raises for remaining sta, which Betz notes is ahead of ination, plus an additional one-year stipend of 3% in an eort to stay competitive to attract and retain teachers. HUSDmanaging growth HUSD had been consistently grow- ing before COVID-19, which Finance Director Tyler Moore attributed to the district being on the outskirts of the metropolitan area, where housing can be more aordable. It also was the earliest to make

Gilbert Public Schools

$8.24M POTENTIAL BUDGET LOSS

The equivalent of about:

152

-3.16%

of overall budget

teachers laid o

students 1,344

21.8%

of those are kindergarten students

The district is currently under-enrolled by about:

Higley USD

$8.65M POTENTIAL BUDGET GAIN

0

The equivalent of about:

+9.03%

of overall budget

teachers laid o

students 271

71.2%

of those are pre-K and kindergarten students

The district is currently under-enrolled by about:

Chandler USD

$12.03M POTENTIAL BUDGET GAIN

186

The equivalent of about:

+3.96%

of overall budget

potential sta positions eliminated

students 1,767

26.8%

of those are pre-K and kindergarten students

The district is currently under-enrolled by about:

SOURCES: GILBERT PUBLIC SCHOOLS, HIGLEY USD, CHANDLER USDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

losses and a healthy balance to carry forward from this year, HUSD antici- pates its maintenance and operations budget growing and giving employ- ees a 5% raise. In between, Chandler USD suered even more severe enrollment losses than GPS, but ocials believe that between federal aid this year and

CONTINUED FROM 1

enrollment of fractional students and full-time students, minus withdraw- als, of each school day through the rst 100 days in session for the cur- rent year. That number is a key gure in state funding formulas, and with low

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

projections on the FY 2021-22 budget, starting last fall and making presenta- tions to the governing board through- out the spring. It tentatively adapted a maintenance and operations budget of $104.48 million March 10, although several funding pieces remain in the air at the Legislature. “We felt com-

budget recovers $12.03 million of that. Berry said with millions in federal and state aid, the district has been able to oset the technology and sani- tation costs associated with COVID-19 and lessen the blow from the enroll- ment dip for the upcoming scal year. CUSD received $3.2 million from ESSER I, $13.57 million from ESSER II and a $14.27 million enrollment stabi- lization grant. “We are covered for last year and this upcoming year,” Berry said. “Our problem lies in the year after that.” Katie Nash, president of the Chan- dler Education Association said she is grateful the district avoided a layo. “We had to reduce our stang budget by $11 million, and honestly I have no idea how we did it,” Nash said. “CEA was adamant that at a time like this we cannot be reducing our sta. Our students now, more than ever, need smaller class sizes, special education resources, counsel- ors to identify where kids are having deciencies. We are extremely fortu- nate that we found out we will not be reducing sta.”

keep the budget growing entering FY 2021-22. HUSD received $600,000 from ESSER I, $2.7 million from ESSER II and a $2.7 million enrollment stabili- zation grant from the state. The additional

come back later if funding changes,’” she said. CUSD avoids layos CUSD Chief Financial Ocer Lana Berry said the district was able to cut $11 million from its stang budget without laying o teachers, instead using attrition and other cost-saving measures to prevent the loss of jobs for this scal year. But the district is not in the clear for scal year 2021-22. CUSD may see a loss of 186 positions due to the estimated enrollment dip that year, although spokesperson Terry Locke said CUSD will absorb that through attrition and job moves. “We are just like everyone else in public education where we are seeing a decrease in students, and there are a number of students across the state who aren’t even going to school, and we don’t know where they are at,” Berry said. In the district’s second budget revision, approved March 24, CUSD reduced its budget capacity by $25.92 million, according to documents from the district, bringing the budget to $305.45 million for the third largest district in the state and second larg- est in the Valley. Next year’s proposed

$8.65 million in maintenance and operations over the FY 2020-21 budget allowed the district to spend $3.53 mil- lion on 5% pay increases for clas- sied and certi- ed sta members and administra- tors. The district also bumped its starting pay 2.5%.

“With a district that really speaks often about howwe’re a family, that we’re part of the GPS family, you know, that’s a big chunk of our family.” HEATHER SCHLEMMER, GILBERT HIGH SCHOOL SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER, ON LAYOFFS

fortable enough as a district and as a cabinet to move with our budgets,” Moore said. The early look also allowed the district to iden- tify early the opportunity to upgrade salaries

and become more competitive in the market, Human Resources Executive Director Mum Martens said. A multidistrict salary study from 2019 showed HUSD salaries lagging slightly behind peer and neighboring districts, often in the 40th or 45th percentile of the job market. State and federal relief aid packages enabled the district to absorb additional costs from COVID-19, Moore said, and

Martens called those two moves “huge” and said when she and Super- intendent Dawn Foley casually men- tioned the possibility of 5% raises to their peers in other districts, it was met with surprise. “A number of the other school dis- tricts said, ‘We’re looking at our risk policies; we’re looking at no increase; we’re looking at distributing contracts that have nothing, and maybe we’ll

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13

GILBERT EDITION • APRIL 2021

PROGRAM’S REACH The Gilbert Oce of Economic Development has kept track of who is receiving aid through the #GilbertTogether business recovery program and how it has helped.

BUSINESS RELIEF

GRANT AWARD BREAKDOWN

STATISTICS TO KNOW

The grant portion of #GilbertTogether, aimed at giving relief to businesses aected by the coronavirus pandemic, has been distributed among many industries in town.

491 grant applications 437 approved $9.35 million awarded 5,481 jobs supported

17.39%

36.84%

Other services

$9.35M AWARDED TO DATE

20.13%

14.19%

Food and drink

19.22%

SOURCE: TOWN OF GILBERT COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

15.33% Health care and social assistance

11.9%

CONTINUED FROM 1

9.38%

Retail trade

10.3%

environmental services enterprise funds to delay a rate increase on town utility bills, Yentes said. Business response One characteristic of the program, coming from business owner surveys through the Gilbert Chamber of Com- merce and council direction, is the ex- ibility of the grants and loans, chamber President and CEO Sarah Watts said. “The #GilbertTogether eort was pretty comprehensive compared to other municipalities in terms of the amount of funding that was available and the fact that the funding wasn’t tied to a specic use,” she said. “Some communities restricted use to [per- sonal protective equipment] or pay- roll. Our community, I thought it was appropriate for our businesses to iden- tify their own need.” Lisa Vukonich, co-owner of Fuchsia Spa, was able to get a $35,000 grant for her Gilbert location at SanTan Village, the hardest hit of her three locations. She said it helped with “everything, being that the revenue has been down at the location.” That included increased PPE, rising sanitation expenses and rent. Emily Staples, owner of Fast Signs, said that as her business picked up this spring, a Gilbert grant of $18,995 allowed her to hire another worker at the end of March, bringing her back to pre-COVID-19 levels. “I’ve tried to tell as many people

8.7%

businesses through March 26 that received grants in one part of the #GilbertTogether business recov- ery program. The town designated $18 million of the $29.2 million it received from AZCares for the three tiers of #GilbertTogether. Another 11 received low-interest microloans, and more businesses and individuals received advice and train- ing from town contractors. The grants, loans and training together make up the #GilbertTogether program, an eort to help the businesses with relief, recovery and resiliency from the pandemic. “We have been able to help a lot of businesses,” Gilbert Economic Devel- opment Director Dan Henderson said. “We have been able to support a lot of jobs.” Varied recipients Of the program’s three tiers, the grants have provenmost popular. Hen- derson called them a “triage” measure to address short-term needs. Antici- pating this, council set aside $11 mil- lion for grants. Through two rounds of funding end- ing March 26, 491 businesses applied for grants and 437 were approved with $9.35 million awarded. That supported 5,481 jobs, according to town data. A breakdown of the grant awards shows 36.84% received the maximum $35,000 grant, but 17.39% received

8.47% Educational services

AMOUNT OF GRANT AWARDED

$35,000 $25,000-$34,999 $15,000-$24,999 $10,000-$14,999 $5,000-$9,999 $4,999 or less

8.47% Arts, entertainment and recreation 7.32% Professional, science, technical

3.2% Construction 2.97% Manufacturing

2.06% Real estate, rental and leasing

25%-49% in either revenue or prots and 10.98% o 75% or more. Economic Development spokes- person Kiley Phillips said the 54 busi- nesses that were turned down were because they did not meet one of the eligibility requirements. The microloans were designed to meet what Henderson called “mid- term” recovery needs, as opposed to the immediate emergency need of the grants. Businesses had to have been operating in Gilbert for at least two years and were eligible for up to $50,000 in loans if they qualied. “We suspected the loan program was not going to get the traction of the grant program,” said Council Member Aimee Yentes, who chaired the coun- cil subcommittee on AZCares fund- ing. “They were designed for dierent needs, but also for dierent phases.” With the low usage of the $5 mil- lion for loans, on March 30, coun- cil approved $2.7 million from that funding to be reallocated into

1.6% Finance and insurance

0.69% Wholesale trade 0.69% Accommodation

0.69% Transportation and warehousing 0.46% Admin, waste and remediation

totals under $5,000. Recipients varied, with 33.41% employing ve or fewer employees, but 2.97% employing 50 or more. The businesses had to be from Gilbert, but 7.32% had been open in town less than two years, while 4.35% had been here more than 20 years. One thing they all had in common was they met the eligibility require- ment of at least a 5% decline in gross revenue or gross prots because of COVID-19 after having had no more than$15millioningross revenueduring 2019. Most cases showed steeper losses, with 45.54% of recipients o

HD SOUTH & THE TOWN OF GILBERT PRESENTS

This is a free, outdoor event so bring your lawn chairs. The Gilbert Historical Museum will be open 12pm-4pm with free admission. Join us for the last day of “The Art Of Quilting” exhibit.

MEMORIAL DAY CEREMONY

GILBERT NORTH CIVIC CENTER CAMPUS

MONDAY, MAY 31 9:00-10:30am

W. WARNER RD.

50 E. Civic Center Drive, Gilbert 85296 hdsouth.org

• Music by the National Guard Band • Opening remarks by Mayor Brigette Peterson • • Guest speaker, Eric Ballester, Retired US Air Force Special Operations Master Sergeant and Combat Controller •

14

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

BUSINESS RECOVERY The #GilbertTogether microloans are to help businesses that have gotten initial relief and need extra funding toward recovery. Here is the recipient breakdown by industry. Retail trade 27.27%

STATISTICS TO KNOW

LOAN AMOUNT BREAKDOWN

library of webinars in marketing and sales, business strategy, nance and taxes; information on relief funding; and virtual oce hours with experts. Through April 3, 280 Gilbert busi- nesses have registered for HUUB, with 101 of those requesting one-on-one specialized technical training. The town has other partners that oer technical assistance to businesses or individuals, including Maricopa County Community College District, Local First Arizona and the Hownd marketing platform. More partners could be on the way, Henderson said. More federal dollars could come into the town, too—$24 million this spring through the American Rescue Plan Act, approved by Congress and signed into law in March. “I expect the desire of the council will be to exhaust everything we have allocated and then take a look at it from a management side,” Yentes said. “Maybe we have taken care of busi- ness, so to speak, and maybe there’s other needs in the community from the town perspective that we should [address].”

22 loan applications 11 approved $325,000 loaned

27.27%

45.45%

$325K AWARDED TO DATE

Finance and insurance

27.27%

Other services

18.18%

She is one of 50 advisers to Gilbert small businesses in the HUUB platform from CO+HOOTS, a coworking and entrepreneurial support business that is partnering with the town in #Gilbert- Together’s $2 million third tier, aimed at resiliency through technical training and mentorship. Jenny Poon, founder and CEO of CO+HOOTS, compared HUUB to a social network for business owners, one that oers small businesses help paid for by the town. “It’s essentially a seed fund to help businesses through this process,” she said. “While it’s not direct grant cash, in your pocket to do whatever you want, it is a grant in terms of $2,000 here for, ‘What is your biggest pain point and how canwe solve that so you can make more money and come out of this stronger?’” Additionally, HUUB includes a

18.18%

18.18% Real estate, rental and leasing 9.09% Health care and social assistance

9.09%

AMOUNT OF LOAN APPROVED

$40,000-$50,000 $30,000-$39,999 $20,000-$29,999 $10,000-$19,999

as I could: If you’re a Gilbert business owner, look at the grant program,” she said. “It was a blessing.” Lynne King Smith is involved with four businesses, three as an owner, from dierent industries that have been hit hard by COVID-19. Only one, however, qualied for relief—Thrive Coworking for Women. With only one employee, Thrive did not meet the requirements for PPP and only received $5,000 in Gilbert grants, but she was approved for a microloan of $25,000 at 4% interest. “That was the piece that really made a dierence because those funds are allowing us to invest in some new

digital marketing campaigns, and we’re doing a short-term, part-time events person so we’re able to build up the business,” King Smith said. Other formsof help King Smith said her 20 years in business helped her respond quickly to what needed to be done during the pandemic, but she said many small-business owners do not have the experience to do that as easily.

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