Students Prepare Much-Needed Credit For Kids Campaign

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Folding, sealing and mailing Credit for Kids brochures to Payson taxpayers was a labor of love for four Payson Elementary School fifth-graders.

Bubba Nielsen, Austin Armstead, Chase Walden and Jeff Kelley all agreed the few hours of work they turned in would reap benefits down the road.

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Payson Elementary School fifth-grade students Austin Armstead and Bubba Nielsen were among the students volunteering to help prepare Credit for Kids informational brochures.

"The money could be used for things we really need at school," Kelley said.

Walden, an aspiring football player, hopes some of the money can be used to improve Longhorn Field.

"Maybe get a (FieldTurf artificial grass) field like they have at Rumsey (Park)," he said.

The four, and other students from around the district, were among a contingent of enthusiastic volunteers who spent most of the morning of Nov. 17 in the district office preparing pamphlets for mailing.

The pamphlets provide a background on the Credit for Kids tax program, respond to frequently asked questions and detail the accomplishments the district has been able to achieve with the funding.

PUSD Superintendent Sue Myers is among those in the district who understand the value of the tax program.

"It's huge. There are so many things we can do with the money that we otherwise wouldn't have been able to," she said.

Myers hopes that even more taxpayers will participate in the program.

"It is the one place in our taxes where we can see where our money is being spent," she said.

Estimates are that only 10 to 12 percent of taxpayers in and around Payson contribute to Credit for Kids.

What is Credit for Kids?

The tax program was passed into law in 1997 by the Arizona State Legislature. It allows households to deduct, as a tax credit, fees paid to schools for extracurricular activities.

Because the donations are a dollar-for-dollar credit, there is no cost to the taxpayer.

Individual taxpayers may contribute up to $200; joint taxpayers up to $250.

When using the donations, school officials must designate that they fund extracurricular activities.

Last year, the $205,050.41 taxpayers donated to the Payson Unified School District was an all-time high. In 2003, the district received $189,377.55.

2004 donations were:

  • Julia Randall School -- $28,663.83, from $20,951.47 in 2003.
  • Frontier Elementary School -- $24,092.46, from $18,770.38 in 2003.
  • Rim Country Middle School -- $20,465.83, from $17,848.17 in 2003.
  • Payson Center for Success -- $18,530.00, from $17,048.37 in 2003.
  • Payson High School -- $43,967.00, from $37,689.50 in 2003.

Credit for Kids experienced only a few decreases in donations in 2004. The high school's stadium project and Payson Elementary School were the only two of the 11 major designees that experienced decreases in donations.

The stadium improvement project had a decline of $7,000 from last year, while PES donations went down to $18,79.95, from $19,502.54 in 2003.

In past years, the Payson Center for Success used the money for career exploration, cultural awareness projects and the development of a yearbook. At Rim Country Middle School, money has been used by the musical theater, Outdoor Adventure Club and for a Science Olympiad.

Frontier Elementary has purchased musical instruments with the money and funded the Wolf Impressions after-school program.

At Payson Elementary School, the donations have been used for field trips, academic enrichment programs and the orchestra.

Julia Randall School officials have paid for field trips, special assemblies, band, orchestra and after-school enrichment programs.

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