School Advocates Must Make Their Case For Override

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Fool me once – shame on you.

Fool me twice – shame on me.

That little truism works on school bond elections too.

Which explains why we’re so delighted that backers of the vital budget override for the Payson Unified School District are finally showing some signs of life.

The group supporting the $1.2 million override have now launched weekly meetings and raised some $7,000 to support the measure. Reportedly, 30 to 150 people have signed on to help push the measure, including a plan to ring as many doorbells as they can manage.

Thank goodness and not a moment too soon.

Advocates for children in our community learned a bitter but vital lesson from the voter rejection of the same measure a little more than a year ago. In that case, a three-person committee used leftover bond campaign dollars and mounted an all-but invisible campaign that produced a defeat.

Back then, school advocates professed themselves astonished when voters rejected the $1.2 million override, even though the additional cost for the owner of a $200,000 home amounted to just $82 per year.

Fortunately, an infusion of federal stimulus money prevented wrenching cuts in core programs.

This time, we won’t be so lucky. We can’t expect another federal bailout, so defeat of the override will cut deep into muscle and scrape against bone.

Until now, we’ve heard barely a word publicly from school advocates. Hopefully, that’s about to change.

We suspect that in the current economic climate, school advocates have a battle on their hands.

Moreover, the school board has compounded the challenge by refusing to detail how the loss of the override would affect school programs. There have been vague comments about maybe laying off teachers, cutting advanced placement courses, curtailing sports programs and eliminating art and music programs, but nothing that provides details about any budget cuts.

We certainly hope people in this community who care about education and kids will now mount a vigorous campaign.

But we must also implore the school board to call an emergency session to approve $1.8 million in specific cutbacks to be imposed if the override fails.

Perhaps the district should put the athletic program on the chopping block — so people will understand the stakes. If careless and shortsighted voters want to cripple the school district and deny the children of this community sports, nurses, librarians, art and music, then so be it. We will deserve the stingy and intellectually impoverished community that will result.

But advocates must make the choice clear, rather than letting voters convince themselves the district can make such deep cuts with a harmless nip and a tuck. Clearly, the last time around the voters didn’t fully understand the consequences. They may even be tempted to think that the first round of cutting worked fine — since school advocates have not detailed the actual losses — which were partially offset with the stimulus spending.

No doubt, it’s a terrible shame the voters didn’t understand the stakes the first time.

And it will be a double shame if those who know better let it happen again.

Hats off to those who helped

The biggest storm in many years roared through the Rim Country last week and it took the dedication of neighbors, friends, first responders and agencies to keep everyone safe and as warm as possible.

Many people worked around the clock to help others. The storm left many communities — Pine, Strawberry, Christopher Creek, Tonto Creek, Tonto Basin and others — without electricity for hours and in some cases days. As fast as APS crews fixed one downed line, a tree would topple another one.

The same could be said for roadways. ADOT and town road crews were also working hard to deal with the 11.5 inches and more of snow, rain, sleet and freezing conditions that constantly made travel dangerous. And we certainly cannot forget the fire departments and so many volunteers that did their best to keep homes from flooding with sandbags and other measures.

It took a community effort by many people to keep the Rim Country running as smoothly as possible this past week. Big storms mean big messes in a community that is normally spared from such weather. We commend all those who helped others — neighbors, volunteers, Red

Comments

frederick franz 4 years, 10 months ago

Take a look at your last property tax bill. We are already drowning in school taxes. I don't want an extra $82 added to my next tax bill. Why should the schools depend on extra money every year? It's about time that they live within a budget just as taxpayers do. Vote "NO" on the override! -Fred

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