Smock: 'Confusing’ readers with facts

Posted 10/20/19

Let me put my cards on the table upfront. I am a proud, unapologetic supporter of the Peoria Unified School District. I served as a governing board member for 12 years. I have fought for adequate funding for Arizona public schools for 30 years.

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Smock: 'Confusing’ readers with facts

Posted

Let me put my cards on the table upfront.

I am a proud, unapologetic supporter of the Peoria Unified School District. I served as a governing board member for 12 years. I have fought for adequate funding for Arizona public schools for 30 years.

And once again I find myself in the position of having to “confuse” readers with the facts.

I refer specifically to the guest commentary of Corrine Haynes (“Peoria PAC: Make education great again, vote no on override,” Oct. 9, 2019, Peoria Independent) in which she makes vague ramblings, unsupported by any facts, suggesting that school district override monies really don’t get into the classroom.

Simply put, she is wrong.

Here are the facts:

  • The legislature created maintenance and operation overrides by statute to permit school districts to ask their communities to pay more to support their schools. That same legislature increased the amount that can be requested from 10% to 15% in 2010, knowing that funding it has provided is inadequate. An override is not a permanent tax increase. It has to be renewed periodically. That is what PUSD is requesting, with a slight increase in what you are paying now from 13% to 15%.
  • Arizona school districts are required to follow strict guidelines in accounting for monies received from legislative funding and voter approved bonds and overrides. PUSD is well-known for its excellence in financial reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association as well as the Auditor General, the Department of Education and a statutorily required annual audit conducted by a licensed CPA firm. Money raised by the override must be spent as advertised – it does not “evaporate” or go somewhere else.
  • There are specific programs and people that the override will fund, including attracting and retaining the best teachers and staff, competitive salaries, all-day kindergarten, assistant principals and nurses for every school and reading, physical education, gifted and arts programs. Most importantly, the override will fund student safety programs. Money for those programs will be spent for those programs if the override is successful; money for those programs will be gone if the override fails. It’s as simple as that.
  • The district is totally transparent about its spending. Information about the override can be obtained at peoriaunified.org/bondsandoverrides or by calling 623-486-6100.
  • By the way, unrelated to Ms. Haynes’ article but a persistent, non-factual theme of those opposed to the override is this: Re-purposing the former Arizona Challenger Space Center has nothing to do with override money. Purchasing that building was made by an exchange of property and developer assistance funding. Use of the Challenger Center for arts programming will free up seven classrooms in Sunrise Mountain High School which will help with serious overcrowding.
  • I support the override. I hope you will, too. Mail your ballot in on time! But whether you support it or not, please base your vote on facts, not unsupported ramblings about school money “evaporating.” That suggestion is nonsensical and shows a complete lack of understanding of school finance.

Julia Smock
PUSD Board Member 1989-2000

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