In mid-October ballots will arrive in our mailboxes. We will be asked to cast a mail-in vote regarding the Mingus Union/Cottonwood Oak Creek School District budget override.
We have been voting “YES!” on this override since 1985. I pray that we will continue to vote “YES!” whenever the subject comes up.
This is a no-brainer. Of course our override should continue. Of course we’ll continue to support our kids! Over the last decade Arizona led the Nation in funding cuts for our public schools, and it’s not going to get any better in the foreseeable future.
As a result of these cuts, Arizona now ranks 49th out of 50 in school funding. I certainly don’t want to cut our local school funding even more.
If we citizens won’t pledge $23 per year (per $100,000 assessed valuation on our houses) then we will get what we deserve:
• Teachers will be eliminated due to budget constraints. With fewer teachers, class sizes will increase astronomically. Individualized instruction and help for a struggling student will be impossible because the remaining teachers will be overwhelmed.
• “Elective” classes will be cancelled or curtailed. Sports, Art, Drama, P.E., Choir, extracurricular activities like chess club and robotics – the reasons that many of our students have for showing up will be gone.
The last override passed, but by a horrifyingly slim margin – 15 votes. 15 votes! I asked people about this margin - I was dismayed that decent funding for our schools by our citizens had been in jeopardy and we didn’t even know it.
Somebody said “Consolidation! Don’t pass the override and they’ll have to consolidate!” Sigh. Please don’t be confused or misled. The subject of consolidating our school districts is in its infancy. Consolidation will take time to figure out, while the need for the override is immediate and critical. The override is the override and consolidation is consolidation, and please don’t mix them up.
And then somebody said “I pay enough Cottonwood taxes!” I get it, but no. The override is not Cottonwood, either. What taxes we pay to the City don’t go to the schools. If you’re disgruntled about the City Of Cottonwood’s budget that’s a different fight. Don’t penalize the kids because you’re mad about Cottonwood’s taxes.
And then somebody said “I don’t have children or grandchildren in these schools, so I don’t care.” Grrrrr. Maybe not, but guess who is in the schools? Your neighbor’s children. The future doctors and attorneys and politicians who will be making decisions about our lives in the future.
Personally, I want these people to have a strong primary education. AND when they’re making decisions about my nursing home and my health care I don’t want them saying “Well, I don’t have any health problems right now so I don’t care.”
The fourth statement was “I just didn’t bother to vote because it was a done deal.” Repeat after me: “The last override passed by 15 votes.”
And the fifth statement was “I don’t want my taxes to go up!” They aren’t going up. This is a continuation, not a new tax. You won’t see any difference in your tax bill.
And then I heard “They get enough money!” Snort. Even with the override funds there isn’t enough money. The kids often buy their own supplies. I know that the teachers buy art supplies out of their abysmal salaries, and so do the teacher’s Moms.
Please. I beg of you. Vote “YES!” on the override.
Carol Anne Teague
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