Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Peoria & Deer Valley S.D. Overrides

I cannot put this post off any longer. We need to discuss a.) economics, b.) budgets, and c.) voting.

This should come as no surprise, but the state of Arizona is in some pretty serious financial trouble. There is not enough revenue for the services we provide. We are in the red. There is no more money.

And yet here's the school districts needing more money! The Peoria and Deer Valley districts recently voted to pass the overrides, which means that they can spend 10% more than what the State has deemed necessary for the operation of their budgets.

The overrides allow the districts to collect 10 percent more than the state provides to their budgets, a sum that covers teacher salaries and other operating costs. Failure would have meant the districts would have lost a third of override funding next school year, $5.5 million in Deer Valley and $6 million in Peoria.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/community/glendale/articles/2010/11/15/20101115glendale-deer-valley-peoria-school-district-budget-overrides-pass.html#ixzz15TxP8wWM
I have a couple of issues, specifically, with this. One, failure would mean that the districts had to stick to the original cap of expenditures, not LOSSES as the article says. And 10% more spending means $5.5 million in Deer Valley and $6 million in Peoria, MORE! Their budgets are already $50.5 million a year and $60 million a year, respectively. And the voters said they should spend more! And guess who's paying for that? All of us. I have no idea where they are going to get the money...but maybe I do.

When your revenue goes down, your expenses should follow suit. This is what's called budgeting. But the school districts don't want to follow a budget. They want to be able to increase their expenditures without regard to what is actually happening in the world around them. I ask you, why should school districts be any different than any other company or individual? Why do they get to spend whatever they want for "needs" when just a little bit of money-sense would help?

Every company, entity, household or person is looking at their diminished income and determining what areas can be trimmed. I think the same standard should be expected of our school districts.

"But what about cuts to sports? But what about cuts to the arts? What about teacher's salaries?"

Believe me, I am a HUGE fan of sports and I love all things artistic and don't want these programs to go away. But why must tax-payers pick up the tab for these things? In most cases parents can afford to pay-to-play (hello extra-curricular activities, i.e. CCV Stars...) and also there is the possibility that students could possibly 1) raise the moneys as a team and 2) ask locals for scholarships.

This is the heart of my frustration. When we agree to raise taxes to pay for things like sports, arts, early education we are letting the government become our charitable institution of choice. People no longer look to non-profit organizations for filling these voids, we now expect the government to do this.

I think voters, especially Christian voters, are missing the boat on this one. When the government begins to take the place of charity, people are less inclined to be charitable with anything, especially since we think, "Well, I already pay my taxes." Taxes are not charity, and there would be more charitable giving if fewer taxes were required.

I read about a middle school who needed to cut athletic programs, and decided to go with a pay-to-play format, which was administered through Young America, for only $50. Why is that so bad? Wouldn't some parents be willing to pick up the tab for another kid if that kid couldn't afford it?

The proponents of the overrides used fear of the future and they played up the cuts to athletics and arts. They didn't even bother to explore other avenues of keeping these programs.

I am comforted by the fact that the overrides passed with VERY slim margins (253 D.V., and 824 Peoria) which I hope means that more and more people are waking up to the subtle encroachments of our government.


Heather @ Cultivated Lives said...

Applauding over here. Very well-stated and reasonable.

chandy said...

That's interesting to read that the margins were so slim. Don't those usually pass quite handily? Perhaps the times, they are a-changin'

D.L. White said...

Wondering if you've seen "Waiting for Superman" the recent documentary about public schools and how the money never makes it to the students? I haven't seen it, but it's on my rental list.

I have mixed feelings when it comes to the arts. Every child should be given an opportunity to learn about them and explore them. (Speaking as someone who went to a high school that didn't fund it's arts program, and I had to supply all my own art materials for my art class - a pretty penny. And lots of my fellow students had to make do and get by with paper and pencil, or by mooching supplies off friends.)

And I agree, Christians need to step up - if we provided the resources, opportunities, support, etc., then people wouldn't be looking to the government to do it, and the government, in turn, mishandling it.

I just don't know what any of that would look like, especially concerning the arts...