CCUSD K-3 override ‘Fact Sheet’ remains bone of contention

By Linda Bentley | September 30, 2009

‘The election laws and statutes prohibiting the use of school property are not about word manipulation and gamesmanship’

CCUSD – On behalf of the Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD), Attorney Christopher Schmaltz of Gust Rosenfeld responded last Friday to Attorney Carol Lynn de Szendeffy’s Sept. 18 letter, sent on behalf of a group of CCUSD taxpayers, requesting the district remove its noncompliant “Fact Sheet” about the K-3 override from the district’s website.

Schmaltz stated the district’s Fact Sheet “is a means by which the district can answer questions, in layperson’s terms, about the election.”

He claims the Arizona Attorney General’s Guidelines allows the use of district resources to “respond to questions about ballot measures so long as the response provides factual information in a neutral manner and does not present a clear and unmistakable plea to vote for or against the measures or encourage the person making the inquiry to take some other kind of action in support of or opposition to the measures.”

However, de Szendeffy disagreed and in her response to Schmaltz on Monday, she wrote, “As you likely know, although the tax rate in the Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD) might be considered “one of the lowest tax rates in all of Maricopa County,” property valuations in the CCUSD are amongst the highest in the State. Therefore, when the District makes a statement about the tax rate, without acknowledging property valuations the District is unfairly implying an overall lower tax.”

While Schmaltz balked at de Szendeffy’s characterization of “misleading and editorial statements,” claimed she provided no factual basis as to how they are “misleading and editorial” and defended them as objective and factual, de Szendeffy told Sonoran News, “The District wouldn’t make a statement in their Fact Sheet about the other pertinent part of the equation that says, for example, ‘CCUSD has some of the highest property valuations in the state.’”

That statement is also factual and pertinent; it is left unsaid because it does not further the district’s cause of wanting to pass an override.

Schmaltz concluded his letter by stating, “Your suggestion that the District is somehow teaching children to ‘circumvent the law or cheat to get what they want,’ is offensive and insulting to the public servants of the district. It has no place in a genuine public debate about the merits of the question before the voters.”

De Szendeffy responded by saying, “The election laws and statutes prohibiting the use of school property are not about word manipulation and gamesmanship. The issue here is not whether public servants are insulted, it is about compliance with the law. Your assistance in insuring compliance by the District administration will be appreciated.”