Guest Editorial by Will Wreight
Enough is enough

October 21, 2009

A year ago, district voters emphatically said NO to CCUSD's request for a K-3 override renewal. Despite this rejection, CCUSD is again seeking a K-3 override renewal in early November.

What has happened since CCUSD's last attempt in late 2008? Well, bankruptcies are up 85 percent, office vacancy rates are almost 25 percent and Maricopa County unemployment rates rose to 9.1 percent. More locally, house valuations dropped about 25 percent in the geographical area served by CCUSD and, for every ten homes sold in the traditional manner in this area, more than four were separately sold involving a foreclosure transaction.

Despite these bad economic times, CCUSD's governing board unanimously decided to ask district taxpayers to approve another K-3 override, even though the current override has two more years to run.

In 2005, CCUSD wanted voters to approve a K-3 override, citing such potential advantages as all-day kindergarten, hiring of additional K-3 teachers, lower K-3 class sizes, improvement in academic achievement in kindergarten programs and grades one through three. District voters narrowly passed this override by 100 votes.

Years later and many millions of dollars in property taxes having been spent, what has been accomplished? Very little! Few additional teachers, relatively flat test scores, little change in class size and minimal spending on instructional materials. Chastened by this, district voters rejected CCUSD's 2008 K-3 override renewal by a decisive 54-46 majority.

After this 2008 K-3 override rejection, a significant supporter of the override rather pointedly asked "Are the Cave Creek voters frugal, selfish or ignorant?" and said residents of Cave Creek "... prefer to remain isolated ... to own a worthless acre of blowing dust ...".

Despite this lack of interest by district voters in renewing the K-3 override late last year, CCUSD will again be spending tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money for another override election. CCUSD has repackaged many of the same arguments used in the unsuccessful 2008 election (also citing that the district will only lose 15 teachers instead of the 20 teacher figure used in 2008 if the K-3 override was rejected).

CCUSD and its K-3 override supporters have not, so far, indicated where these 15 or 20 teacher numbers came from. State law requires that the CCUSD's 2005 K-3 override funds could only be used to pay the salaries of new K-3 teachers added to the existing elementary school staff and not pay any of the salaries of CCUSD's K-3 teachers on the permanent staff in its elementary schools. Since 2005-6, state School District Employment Reports report that only six new teachers were added to the staff of CCUSD's elementary schools (after ignoring the 29 elementary teachers added to the Horseshoe Trails permanent staff when it opened several years ago). The taxpayers may then ask "Where have these millions of dollars in K-3 override funds been spent?"

Should the district voter trust the CCUSD? No! Did CCUSD forget to tell district taxpayers about the millions of dollars received from the state for all-day kindergarten and in "K-weight" funds since 2005-6? Did CCUSD forget to tell the taxpayer about the $50,000 per month (yes, $50,000 per month) that the taxpayers are sending to Wall Street investors as interest on the $15 million in bond money issued in 2006 and currently sitting in a state bank account? Did CCUSD forget to tell the voters why the senior district administrator and the governing board had to undergo a training session on permitted and restricted political activities by Maricopa County election officials as part of a consent agreement? Did CCUSD forget to tell the voters that the actual tax revenues collected for the K-3 override increased about 25 percent since 2005-6?

Remember, this is the same group who asked district taxpayers to approve a swimming pool complex, to approve a $70 million "Taj Mahal" high school, and to approve the lease/purchase of over 5,000 laptops. This same group built an unnecessary "flex" school, "repurposed" school facilities because of excess capacity and thought about shutting down an existing school facility even before district taxpayers have finished paying off the applicable bonds.

After years of rhetoric and about $10 million funding from district taxpayers and the state, CCUSD still wants more money for what they said that they would accomplish in 2005-6. This request is made despite the fact that CCUSD will be receiving more K-3 override funds for the next two years. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Vote NO on the K-3 override ballot on November 3.