By Leon Potter
As many are aware, I served on the 2015 override recommendation committee for Maricopa Unified School District. Even though the vast majority of the committee was in favor of putting the override on the ballot in 2016, I want to express my opinion in the matter as an individual community member.
I do not believe the override will pass in 2016. In fact, I am doubtful it would pass in 2017. My opinion is based on public sentiment in the Maricopa Unified School District voting area. I don’t believe it has changed since the last time it was on the ballot when the majority of voters voted “no.”
Admittedly, I don’t have scientific backing of this. Also, I admit that I do not have a crystal ball to predict an outcome just as no one else does.
Although I completely agree that losing funding is a challenge in itself, I just don’t believe the community is ready to support an override. If I thought it would pass, I would say the expense to put the override on the ballot is worth it. The cost in 2014 was $25,000, according to MUSD. I believe the district should save the expense and not “throw good money after bad” knowing the last six attempts were unsuccessful.
I understand the school board sees the recent override results in other districts as a positive trend. It could very well be the case for MUSD, too. However, I encourage school board members to look deeper into the situation of the other school districts. For instance, how many voted “yes” after voting “no” at least six consecutive times?
I understand the frustration of supporters of an override because they see the financial need, as I do, with MUSD. I also understand the frustration of MUSD voters when they ask, “when will it be understood that a ‘no’ means no?”
By Jeff Kramarczyk
On Nov. 18, the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board voted unanimously to place a 10-percent, seven-year override on the Nov. 8, 2016, ballot. If approved, the funds will be used for class-size reduction and expanded academic programs through additional teachers, and additional instructional technology for students.
The board’s decision to bring this issue to the voters was made after a several-month deliberation process that included MUSD parents, community members, district staff and the Maricopa Education Foundation. This collective strongly urged the board to place an override on the ballot to fund these much-needed measures. This override will bring an estimated $3.2 million in additional funds annually. This translates to approximately $500 dollars per student per year with an annual cost of $132 for the owner of a home with an assessed value of $100,000.
Here is why this override should be approved:
First, our students are our most precious community resource. They deserve our investment. We want them to receive the best K-12 education possible so they can maximize their potential and make positive future contributions to our city, our state and our nation.
Second, a thriving community needs a thriving school district. All neighboring school districts have overrides in place including Kyrene, Tempe Union High School, Chandler, Queen Creek, Casa Grande Elementary and Casa Grande High School. There are currently 1,500 Maricopa students attending school in Kyrene and Tempe. Parents enroll them there because those districts can afford to hire additional teachers to reduce class size and to provide additional academic offerings that MUSD cannot afford without these override dollars.
Third, MUSD is doing a good job and getting better. The district has recently improved its letter grade from “C” to “B.” The goal of MUSD is to be an “A” district with every school achieving an “A.” These funds will help insure that this goal is met.
As president of the Maricopa Education Foundation, I urge you to join me in supporting this proposal. If you need additional information or would like to discuss, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This point/counterpoint appeared in the December issue of InMaricopa News.