Fiscal responsibility is a lesson for, not against, children

By Linda Bentley | October 21, 2009

virgil cainPhoto: Virgil Cain, who lost his appointed seat on the CCUSD governing board during the 2008 election, campaigned then to “renew” the same seven-year K-3 override even though it was only in its third year of funding.
Photo by Linda Bentley

CCUSD – Learn Yes Political Action Committee (PAC) Chairman Stephen Hart was behind the robo-calls made last week to Cave Creek Unified School District residents urging a yes vote on the K-3 override.

Hart was chairman of the Vote Yes for Cave Creek Students PAC in 2007, which failed to “renew” the same seven-year K-3 override, then in its second year of funding.
Vote Yes also failed to submit campaign finance reports in a timely manner, resulting in fines totaling $430.

While Hart, an attorney with Lewis & Roca LLP, cheerleads to pass the K-3 override, he hasn’t even paid the second half of his 2008 property taxes yet, which has since accrued $73 in interest.

And, Learn Yes Treasurer Paul Bielecki, lives in the Washington School District, yet he too is rooting to raise CCUSD’s taxes for another seven years.

Kerwin Franklin, on behalf of Learn Yes, submitted an e-mail that said, “You might want to print the REAL FACTS for the current override vote … I would appreciate the paper presenting both sides and checking their facts.”

While there may be two sides to a ballot measure, there is only one set of facts.
Franklin explains in response to one of his 15 regularly asked questions, “Bond proceeds are designed by law to be used only for buildings and facility improvements, and were intended for a new high school. Those funds cannot be used for classroom operating expenses and supplies.”

Although correct, taxpayers are paying off $15 million in bonds issued three years ago even though no high school is being built, which places the district in violation of IRS regulations and is costing taxpayers $50,000 per month in interest alone.

And, Sonoran News did indeed look at the district’s financial reports and the district’s Maintenance and Operations Expenditure Budget.

The previous M&O budget submitted to the state was $35,656,836, whereas the revised M&O budget is $35,136,023 for the 2009-2010 budget year, a reduction of 1.46 percent.

The report can be found here: School Finance Budget Reports

Sonoran News received an e-mail from Virgil Cain, a former CCUSD board member, complaining to Sonoran News Publisher/Editor Don Sorchych about his “lack of support” for CCUSD, stating, “You not only don’t support the excelling education of our children you chose to criticize, disrespect and generally undermine the efforts of a lot of hard working teachers, educators, administrators, parents, community citizens and most importantly OUR children.”

Without citing a single disputed fact, Cain accuses Sorchych of creating the news, stretching the truth, using old figures to support today’s issues and printing inaccurate data to support his position.

An e-mail from Denise Klein was prefaced with, “I guess the first thing I would ask you is how many children you have in the CCUSD because it sounds to me like you don’t know very much about what the schools need … Since I do, I can tell you first hand that the funding, any funding … is desperately needed at this time.”

Klein stated, “Maybe you don’t think these things should be paid for by everyone … I was shocked that such an affluent community pays so little in taxes to support our children ... I do believe it takes a village to raise children!”

Klein said, “Look at the budget cuts for each school,” and without providing any facts or figures, she concluded, “But until you put in the time and work don’t be telling the rest of us what is needed and not needed!!!!”

Jennifer Griffin chimed in to say, “I am tired of the lack of support the Sonoran News has for our local schools … Our schools have been faced with a difficult budget crisis. Every school has made cuts, but you never print that information.”

Griffin claims class sizes are increasing. However, according to the annual reports the district submits to the state, student/teacher ratios have remained at around 19:1 for about the past 10 years.

Property values, on the other hand, have tanked. Take Cain’s home, for example. His Full Cash Value (FCV) is down 12.4 percent from 2008 to 2009, but his property taxes are up 3.4 percent.

Hart’s taxes, should he decide to pay them, are up 8.4 percent.

As Tom Jenney, Arizona Director, Arizona Federation of Taxpayers, pointed out last week, Arizona school districts have resources of $9,707 per child.

Sonoran News still has only one question: How much money would be considered enough?