Many critical issues will be decided on election day, Nov. 4, but none as important to Payson’s future as the budget override issue for the Payson Unified School District.
Arizona continues to be shamefully ranked 49th of all states in per-student school funding and because less than 5 percent of the land within our school district is taxable, our taxes to the school district constitute less than 30 percent of the operating budget.
Nearly 80 percent of Arizona’s school districts have found themselves in a situation similar to that of Payson and have resorted to overrides in order that they may provide their students a satisfactory education.
In May of 2004, the school district requested a special election to ask voters for a secondary school tax to fund a 10 percent increase in the maintenance and operations budget for a period of seven years with a review election after four years.
More than 60 percent of Payson’s voters agreed to the increase, which has funded additional teachers to bring down classroom size, PE teachers for the elementary grades, librarians and nurses. It has funded extra-curricular programs in the fine arts and to improve teacher’s health insurance benefits so as to be competitive with school districts in the Valley.
Today, the district needs approximately $1,400,000 to continue these programs and services into the next school year and through 2011.
The question on the ballot will allow the school district to continue to budget a 10 percent increase in the maintenance and operations budget for the remaining three years, however, the secondary tax rate of $0.4103 per $100 valuation you pay will not increase; it will remain the same through the 2010-2011 tax year when the override expires by its own terms.
If the override fails on Nov. 4 the consequences are severe. Each year, beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, the tax collected diminishes by one-third until its expiry at the end of the 2011 tax year. This would mean cuts across the board in terms of teachers, librarians, nurses and the fine arts programs.
Our state legislators continue to abdicate their responsibility to provide a full and satisfactory education to the kids in our state. Payson’s voters cannot make the same mistake.
Make Payson’s kids count. Vote yes on the override question on Nov. 4.