Time To Pony Up For Credit For Kids

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The school district boardroom on West Wade Street was a beehive of activity last week as volunteers from all the district’s six schools joined parents and other adult volunteers to get out the annual Credit for Kids mailing.

“We had the K Kids from Julia Randall, the Payson Elementary student council, Mrs. Haught’s class from Frontier Elementary, the Builders Club from the middle school, and students who just wanted to help from Payson High School and Payson Center for Success,” said Susan Campbell, curriculum secretary for the Payson Unified School District.

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The district’s principals and Superintendent Herb Weissenfels are off to the post office with the annual Credit for Kids mailing. They are (standing, left to right) Phil Gille, Payson High School; Roy Sandoval, Payson Elementary; Ardyth Potter, Julia Randall Elementary; Weissenfels; Frank Larby, Rim Country Middle School; (kneeling, left to right) Gail Gorry, Frontier Elementary; and Monica Nitzsche, Payson Center for Success.

Students are more than a little interested in the success of the Credit for Kids drive because the money raised goes exclusively to extracurricular activities, providing funding for things that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Last year’s drive netted $189,388 easily the highest amount raised in the five years of the program’s existence.

The total, which works out to about $66 per student, is more than most school districts in Arizona raise. Campbell attributes the support to several factors.

“Our community is very generous, and more and more people realize what a good deal this is,” she said. “It’s also very easy to participate. It’s easy on the front end to give it and it’s easy at the back end to get the tax credit.”

The dollar-for-dollar tax credit allows a $200 credit for individual taxpayers and a $250 credit for married taxpayers filing jointly. The mailing, sponsored by Coldwell Banker Bishop Realty, Pioneer Title and The Stockmen’s Bank, includes a brochure with all the details plus a convenient participation form and return envelope.

Campbell explained some of the ways the money will be spent.

“We’ve now completed the new track, which was a major project,” Campbell said. “But the stadium project is ongoing. We still need to add bleachers and rest rooms.”

Other noteworthy projects that are funded by Credit for Kids include the Wolf impressions after-school enrichment program at Frontier Elementary School, a similar after-school program at Julia Randall Elementary, and a new climbing wall at JRE.

Credit for Kids money also funds band and orchestra programs in the elementary schools, fine arts and tutoring at Rim Country Middle School, career exploration and cultural events at PCS, and sports, clubs and fine arts at PHS. Donors can specify which school or schools they want to support, and can actually indicate which sport or club they want their donation to go to at PHS.

As usual, the state Legislature is expected to take a careful look at the Credit for Kids program as one source of budget cuts to help make up for the burgeoning deficit Arizona faces.

“The state would save about $34 million if they got rid of this tax credit,” Campbell said.

“That sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t in the big scheme and it does so much good.”

The state legislature passed the law enacting the Credit for Kids program back in 1997. It basically directs a portion of your tax money to the school district of your choice rather than to the Arizona Department of Revenue.

Participants do not have to have children in the district, and do not even have to live in the district. Donations must be made by Dec. 31, 2002 in order to be eligible for the tax credit this year.

Complete instructions for participating are included in the mailing, or call the school district office at 474-2070 for more information.

Through a similar program, taxpayers can take a tax credit of up to $625 for donations to private schools.

The public school tax credit may be taken in addition to the private school credit.

The Dec. 31 deadline is the same for donations to the Payson Community Christian School, a 12-year-old K-8 school which offers classes in the upper story of First Assembly of God Church.

According to Principal/Administrator Teresa Purtee, the school offers a well-rounded, Christian-centered education, including music, art and programs that nurture the leadership abilities of its students.

At least 90 percent of the donated funds received will be used for tuition grants and scholarships for students attending the school. Donors who want to recommend their contribution go to a particular student may do so, although state law prohibits designating your own dependent as a potential recipient.

Donation cards may be picked up at PCCS, 1102 W. Lake Drive in the First Assembly of God Church, or phone 474-8050 to receive one by mail.

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