With the state legislature promising to take a close look at both the public and private school tax credit programs next year, parents and other supporters of local education have until Dec. 31 to take a tax credit by donating up to $200 to Payson schools and $500 to Payson Community Christian School.
The education tax credits available through both programs have recently come under scrutiny by a legislature already reeling from the alternative-fuel fiasco which is expected, even with the recent legislative fix, to cost the state at least $200 million. Some members of the legislature have now focused on education as a potential way to get a portion of that money back.
Under the terms of the three-year-old Credit for Kids law and the Arizona Private School Tax Credit law, each household is entitled to take a tax credit equal to the amount donated to either public or private schools up to the $200 and $500 respective limits.
Opponents of the programs claim that poorer schools suffer, and that donations for private school scholarships are, in effect, a de facto voucher system. Last year the two programs cost the state $30 million, $145,117 of which was donated to PUSD for extracurricular activities.
"The money will go for such uses as after-school programs in math, reading, and music, for special field trips, and to help us complete the all-weather track at the high school," PUSD Superintendent Herb Weissenfels said.
Other projects that Weissenfels hopes will be funded include completing the purchase and installation of full-scale bleachers across the south side of the football field/track, other after-school academic enrichment and intramural programs, and vocational education and career exploration activities.
For the first time this year, donors can specify which school their donation goes to as well as selecting the extracurricular activity they wish to support.
Private school donors may specify that their scholarship contribution go to a particular student, although state law prohibits designating your own dependent as a potential recipient.
All donations to both public and private education must be postmarked by Dec. 31, 2000 in order to be eligible for the tax credit this year.
Public school donations can be placed in the Arizona Public Service drop box at Payson Town Hall, or mailed to Credit for Kids, PUSD #10, P.O. Box 919, Payson, AZ 85547. For more information on public school donations, call PUSD at 474-2070.
Donations to Payson Community Christian School should be mailed to Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization, P.O. Box 25949, Tempe, AZ 85285. For more information, call ACSTO, which is administering the program for PCCS, at (480) 820-0403.