Guest Editorial: By Will Wreight
CCUSD plans another special election this November
By Will Wreight | July 22, 2009
Upcoming election is for a K-3 override renewal
Last November, district taxpayers decisively voted "NO," by a 54-46 percent margin, on another multimillion dollar K-3 override renewal. The original K-3 override, which lasts for seven years, was narrowly enacted, by about 100 votes, in the spring of 2005.
This 2005 K-3 override still has several years to go, with about $1 million in property taxes required in this current school year (2009-10) and another million in partial payments spread out in the following two school years (2010-11, 2011-12). Since the 2005-6 school year, district taxpayers will have paid out nearly $5 million in property taxes, including the current school year, for various K-3 programs. These millions in K-3 override funds are in addition to the millions in "k-weight" kindergarten funds supplied by the state.
Has this multimillion dollar K-3 override funding had any significant effect on average Terra Nova test scores for the second/third grades? NO! There appears to be very little difference in the average second/third grade test scores for reading, language arts literacy and mathematics, comparing the school years preceding the passage of the original K-3 override and the most recent school year of record.
Did CCUSD spend the nearly $5 million in K-3 override funds to hire new teachers and teachers' aides as additions to elementary school staff to achieve lower K-3 class size? In the years before the K-3 override was enacted, average overall elementary school class sizes were about 23 students per teacher with four elementary schools. Over a five year period, Desert Sun and Desert Willow gained a net of six elementary school teachers. These six teachers were a small fraction of the 150 elementary school teachers currently employed by the district; the number of these six elementary school teachers assigned to the K-3 programs is unknown.
In the 2005-6 school year, Horseshoe Trails elementary school was opened and new HTES hires caused the overall elementary school students per teacher to drop from 23 to about 18. However, students per teacher in the district K-3 grades continues to be about 23. There is no change in the 16.77 teachers' aide staff assigned to all elementary schools since 2003-4.
Has CCUSD adequately supported the K-3 teaching staff with supplies and purchased services (instructional materials) since the 2005-6 school year? Not very well! According to CCUSD M&O budgets submitted to the state, the district has spent an average of 1+ percent of K-3 override funds for instructional materials. Contrast this with the over 7 percent of CCUSD's classroom M&O funds that are normally budgeted for instructional materials and purchased services. The average annual K-3 funding for instructional materials translates out to about $6.75 per K-3 student, or less than the cost of a "cheese pizza".
Have the K-3 override funds been partially used in substitution for general M&O funds normally budgeted for K-3 operations before the 2005-6 K-3 override? Have these supplanted funds been then used for other CCUSD activities not under K-3 funding restrictions? Has CCUSD explained, in some detail, to the district taxpayer, where the multiple millions of dollars in the combined 2005-6 K-3 override funds and the "k-weight" kindergarten funds have been spent? Taxpayers wonder!
The district taxpayer has placed nearly $5 million into CCUSD coffers and what is their return on investment? They have experienced very minor differences in Terra Nova scores in the early grades, minimal use of new elementary teachers to supplement the then existing K-3 staff, little difference in K-3 class sizes and very minor spending for K-3 instructional materials. With a past K-3 record like this, what is CCUSD's justification for asking district taxpayers to approve another K-3 override, especially in light of the significant "k-weight" funds supplied by the state? District voters should vote another emphatic "NO" to CCUSD's request for a K-3 override renewal.
The above analysis was derived from School District Employment reports published by the Arizona Department of Education, enrollment reports and annual M&O budgets issued by CCUSD and Terra Nova profiles provided by www.greatschools.net.
Guest Editorial: Carole Perry
Walmart and the slanted reporting of the AZ Republic
By Carole Perry | July 22, 2009
In the past 2 weeks, the Arizona Republic printed several articles by Beth Duckett, heavily slanted in favor of the “local citizens” (a PAC funded by a union and whose members mostly live outside Cave Creek) who are drumming up support for a referendum to stop Walmart from building a store in Cave Creek. This is a store they frequently refer to as a Walmart Supercenter, knowing most people don’t realize the term Supercenter merely indicates that groceries will be sold at that location. It is not an indication of size, because in fact, this particular Walmart is planned to be about half the size of a regular Walmart; even smaller than the Lowe’s home improvement store across the intersection. It is also, incidentally, a building that is planned to be so “green” in its creation and development that it exceeds in every way the universal standard measurement (LEEDS) of green that few stores even aspire to achieve. Why, I wonder, is the Republic only reporting the negative view, supported by a few local, mostly non-residents of Cave Creek? Where is the balanced reporting in this story?
Then we read 2 days ago, in Max Jarman’s article, that Bashas’ is going into bankruptcy because of Walmart. It is both the headline to the story and the lead paragraph that the arrival of Walmart’s grocery stores in Arizona was the beginning of Bashas’ end. Seriously?!?
But then, with no excuses or apologies, one day later, July 15, Mr. Jarman writes an in-depth story on Bashas’ demise, blaming it squarely on the union, specifically the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which has implemented an entire bag of dirty tricks against Bashas’ over the past 8 years. So dirty that Bashas’ has filed charges of racketeering and extortion against the union. (It’s interesting to me that these are the same charges my hard working father made about the Teamsters union, of which he was forced to be a member, clear back in the late ‘50s. And we know how that turned out.)
In fact, in this lengthy second story, there is never a single mention of Walmart; nor is there any correction to his previous day’s story where he squarely places the blame on Walmart. Mr. Jarman – and the Republic – owe the readers – and Walmart – an apology. This union they are now blaming for Bashas’ demise, is the same union that has been spreading lies about Walmart for years. More significantly, this is the same union that is funding the anti-Walmart campaign in our community. This union is the source of erroneous information previously printed by the Republic while pretending to represent disgruntled local citizens.
If the UFCW truly worked for the best interest of the employees, wouldn’t Bashas’ employees – and Walmart employees – have voted long ago to join the union? Even the least political savvy person is able to discern that this union, like too many others, is inherently corrupt, with no ethical compass; using only greed and power as the standard driving force.
I am not a Walmart employee, but I am a voting resident of Cave Creek who is very much in favor of this Walmart at this location in my town. This location, at the far southern edge of town, is far from the historic and unique town core; it sits alongside other major commercial development, and, incidentally, is virtually across Cave Creek Road from my home, which has been inside Cave Creek town limits since 1987.
I’m not concerned about this “big box” in my neighborhood, because I know that, unlike Home Depot and Fry’s sitting in Phoenix next door, they will conform to all the Cave Creek building, lighting and set-back standards. They won’t intrude on my view due to their height restrictions; they won’t pollute my night sky because they will adhere to the 10 foot down-lit parking lot light restrictions.
I am also thrilled at the prospect of finally being able to buy my groceries from a store located in my town. It means that the purchase of my necessary staples – which I cannot buy at any small business in my town today! – will contribute to my town’s tax base rather than a neighboring town. Without putting one small Cave Creek business out of business, we will all be able to make a significant contribution to our town’s financial health and prosperity by spending fewer dollars than we currently spend in Phoenix, Scottsdale or Carefree, for the same goods. This is truly the Mother of all Win-Wins for every Cave Creek citizen!