In defense of the Arizona Legislature, state lawmakers are the ultimate whipping boy for every special interest group with hat in hand. The state's education bureaucracy is no different from those who champion indigent medical care, improved roadway systems, enhanced mental health care and the list goes on and on.
So many needs. Only so many dollars, especially in the recessed economic times Arizona is now experiencing.
We need to stop viewing budget overrides as an exercise in finding fault with those who hold purse strings at the highest levels of our state government to our local school boards and administrators. The fact of the matter is that all of the above are doing the best they can. Many, in fact, do a much better job of stretching the dollar than you or I could.
Instead, we need to view budget overrides as a choice, and an opportunity.
The choice is simple: Are we satisfied with the basic level of education service provided through state appropriations and our primary property tax levy? If so, then there is no need to lend your support to a school district budget override.
But if you are not satisfied with that basic level of service, a budget override represents a real opportunity. It's an opportunity, quite a bargain in fact, to provide the children of our community with the very best an education system can give. It means we want to pay the price for our children to be exposed to gifted education programs and all-day kindergarten. It means we believe they deserve vibrant music education and the kind of physical education programs that instills in them a love and appreciation of good health, exercise and recreation. It means we believe they deserve the very best.
Budget overrides are not an obligation because someone else dropped the ball or school officials cannot live within their financial means. Budget overrides are a choice and an opportunity to make our schools better than the norm.
It's a choice and an opportunity that voters in the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District have embraced in the past ... and school officials have not let us down for making such a choice.
March 12, those same voters will get to make the same choice.
The wise choice will be to take advantage of a golden opportunity.