Payson schools are able to host a large number of extracurricular activities and academic assistance programs thanks to Credit For Kids tax donations.
Last year, the Payson community contributed more than $190,000 to the tax program. In 2002, Payson received its largest contribution ever -- more than $192,000.
Those donations represent quite an outpouring of support from a town the size of Payson.
Throughout the state, there are districts with much larger student bodies whose donations didn't match what Payson contributed.
The much-needed tax money is used to fund projects and extracurricular activities at every school in the Payson Unified School District.
Some of the projects that have been funded with Credit for Kids tax dollars include the improvement of the Payson High School stadium and track; funding for the strings music program at Payson Elementary; math club at PHS; Young Authors Day at Julia Randall; an after-school music program at Frontier Elementary; Outdoor Adventures Club, and before and after school tutoring at Rim Country Middle School; career exploration trip at Payson Center for Success; and calculus camp at Payson High School.
At Frontier Elementary School, principal Gail Gorry strongly advocates Credit for Kids. She identifies the tax program, along with federal grants and cookie sales, as essential to the education of the students.
Gorry continues to use Credit for Kids tax money to fund the after-school Wolf Impressions art programs that have proven to be very popular with the students. She also uses the tax money to fund other financially strapped programs that would be lost if not for Credit for Kids.
At Julia Randall Elementary School, an extensive after-school program is partly funded by Credit for Kids.
Children are able to choose from a long list of after-school offerings including remedial reading, remedial math, quilting scrapbooking, fishing, advanced science, model car building, and rock climbing.
Students also have the option of enrolling in band, chorus, and strings.
Two years ago the small budget for the Fitness Factor program at Payson High School dried up. Peggy Miles, then a physical education teacher and program sponsor, pleaded for Credit for Kids donations to keep the program afloat.
Simply put, administrators and teachers say Credit for Kids tax funding is essential to providing a well-rounded education.
In Pine/Strawberry, school officials also depend on the tax donations to fund extracurricular activities like fine arts, career explorations, intramural programs, school improvement projects, and others.
How it works
State law allows a $200 tax credit for individual taxpayers and a $250 tax credit for married persons filing jointly.
The donation is a credit against any tax liability not a deduction from income.
In other words, the contribution costs the taxpayer nothing and the money remains in Payson.
If a local taxpayer doesn't make the donation, the money goes to the Arizona Department of Revenue in Phoenix.
In establishing Credit for Kids in 1997, the legislature mandated that school districts can accept unlimited funds, but all of it must be used for extracurricular activities.
Donations to Credit for Kids can be dropped off, before Dec. 31, at the PUSD offices located at 514 W. Wade or at the Pine/Strawberry School.
Contributions can also be dropped off at any school site, at the Arizona Public Service drop box, APS office or Payson Town Hall.