Credit For Kids Rakes In Dough

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The total was down slightly from the previous year, but officials from the Payson Unified School District are pleased with the final tally for the 2002 Credit for Kids campaign.

A total of $175,212.35 was received, a decrease of $17,000 and change over the 2001 total of $192,292.51. In a sluggish economy, it could have been a lot worse, according to Susan Campbell, PUSD curriculum secretary.

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The Rim Country Middle School cross country team is entirely funded by Credit for Kids money. Competing for RCMS (left to right) are Brendan Van Zile, Eric Lammers and Steven Hilgendorf. RCMS has $21,158 to spend on extracurricular activities this year thanks to Credit for Kids.

Campbell also noted that the amount donated to individual schools was up overall, with the decline absorbed by a $22,000 decrease in the amount earmarked for the Payson High School football stadium fund.

"We're very pleased because the schools did so well," she said. "Most of them were above last year."

The dollar-for-dollar tax credit allows a $200 credit for individual taxpayers and a $250 credit for married taxpayers filing jointly. The money raised goes exclusively to extracurricular activities, providing funding for things that wouldn't otherwise be possible.

The breakdown on a school-by-school basis and what the schools plan to do with their funding this year:

Frontier Elementary School

FES received a total of $26,257, a 3.9 percent increase over 2001. The bulk of FES's money is used on its after school enrichment program, according to third-grade teacher Cynthia Chovich who coordinates it.

"It's three days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.," Chovich said. "We have 62 different classes and 120 kids enrolled from our school, home-schooled kids, JRE. We have volunteers from the Payson Center for Success. We have teachers from the different schools. We have local artists. We have a class based on Leonard da Vinci, we have one called The Masters where they're doing a mural, we have archery, cheerleading, beginning French, chess, leatherworking, stained glass -- I could go on and on."

Julia Randall Elementary School

JRE received a total of $18,455, a 6.9 percent decrease from the 2001 total of nearly $20,000.

"It will pay for instructors and materials for the after-school program, which includes tutoring in reading and mathematics, some arts, rock climbing, band and chorus, hands-on math and science -- those kinds of things," JRE Principal Ardyth Potter said. "We are also using it to help us with special field trips that would never be possible without Credit for Kids. And we are using it to rent instruments for our kindergarten violin program."

Payson Elementary School

PES recorded a hefty 9.2 percent increase in Credit for Kids money over 2001. Principal Roy Sandoval has ambitious plans for the $20,435 donated to his school.

"What we do is run our after-school programs," he said. "We have 198 kids in one program that is enrichment and extra accelerated reader and writer activities. Then we have another after-school program that is academic intervention. We have about 75 kids in that program. And then it also pays for our strings program, band instruments, those kinds of things."

Rim Country Middle School

RCMS reported the biggest loss over 2001, raising $21,158 -- 14.7 percent less than 2001. Principal Frank Larby says money from previous years will cover the shortfall so no programs will have to be curtailed.

"Each year we fund the RCMS musical, we fund our Outdoor Adventure Club, we fund our morning study hall, and then the two biggies are our after-school remediation program for kids to make up failed classes and then our study hall," he said. "We also take some money out for cross country. We also try to fund some technology upgrades through it. I like my emphasis more on the academics and the fine arts, but if anyone has ideas we're always willing to look at them."

Payson High School

The stadium fund received $40,388, a 35.7 percent decline. Other donations, which totaled $31,832 for a 16 percent increase over 2001, are designated by contributors for specific clubs or activities.

"Hopefully they'll keep the Credit for Kids and we can keep this fund going, which is real important for several reasons," Dave Bradley, PHS assistant principal and athletic director. said. "We don't have enough seats at the football field, and hopefully we can add more so people can come to our football games. We use football gate receipts to pay for a lot of our athletics the rest of the year, so it's real important. It also gives us a great place to have graduation, and we fight that every year. We're also hoping to have regional and state track meets with several thousand kids up here."

Payson Center for Success

PCS registered a 24 percent increase to $16,686. Principal Monica Nitzsche says the charter school plans to continue funding the same extracurricular activities and programs it has in the past.

"We do enhancements and enrichments for our career exploration program," she said. "For example, we recently came back from Kartchner Caverns and the Biosphere, and (we want to take) other field trips that give kids a chance to do things they've never done before. We also use the money for our yearbook and graduation."

Pine-Strawberry Schools

Pine-Strawberry schools raised a total of $50,833, down slightly from 2001, according to Mary Jo Licavoli, business manager. Teachers write grant requests for the $15,120 that was designated for a specific purpose.

Tonto Basin Schools

Tonto Basin collected $7,000, also down slightly.

Principal John Ketchem attributed the decline to the economy.

Tonto Basin plans to use the money to offset field trips, for a sprinkler system for the softball/baseball field, and to begin funding glass backboards, a sound system and a scoreboard for the new gym.

Ketchem also reminds Rim country residents that 2003 contributions to Credit for Kids can be made throughout the year.

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