VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 41   | OCTOBER 12 – 18, 2011


PVUSD – Mixing facts, fiction and propaganda

‘Text books are a priority budget item, not an excuse to raise taxes’

lynn weaverAn advocate for lower property taxes, Lynne Weaver, chair of Prop13 Arizona, said she was offended by the statement on the cover of the Paradise Valley Unified School District’s Special Election Informational Pamphlet proclaiming: “Cultivating world-class thinkers.”
Photo by Linda Bentley

PVUSD – Since the Nov. 8 Special Election Informational Pamphlets have been mailed for the Paradise Valley Unified School District, district taxpayers have accused the district and the elections division of the Maricopa County Education Service Agency of politically biased shenanigans with respect to the district’s upcoming bond and capital override election.

pvusd voter pamphletJust under the name of the school district, on the cover of the PVUSD Information Pamphlet, it states, “Cultivating world-class thinkers,” which got district resident Lynne Weaver up in arms.

The district has a presentation posted on its website titled “Critical Skills for World-Class Thinkers and Learners.”

PVUSD has embraced COMPASS 2015, which stands for “Centered On Measures Positioning All Students for Success.”

It’s broken down on the face of compass into four areas: Critical/Creative Thinking, Comm-unication/Collaboration; Digital-Age Literacies and Productivity.

Under Communication/ Collaboration it includes, “Responsibility: social, civic and personal” as well as “Collective inquiry.”

Topping the list under Digital-Age Literacies is “Global/Cultural awareness.”

Like the International Baccalaureate program, Weaver said, “It smacks of UN Agenda 21 globalist indoctrination.”

PVUSD is asking voters to pass a $203 million bond, to be paid over a period not to exceed 20 years at an interest rate of approximately 4 percent, to “provide funds to construct school facilities, purchase school buses, and to make repairs and renovations necessary to maintain a safe student environment that is conducive to learning.”

The estimated cost of the proposed bond authorization, including principal and interest, is $318 million, repaid from a levy of property taxes.

But that’s not all PVUSD is asking for in the way of money.

It’s also asking voters for the authority to exceed its capital outlay revenue limit by the lesser of $5.9 million or 10 percent of the district’s revenue control limit per year for the next seven years, a total of approximately $41 million.

The override would replace the current $9.1 million per year capital outlay override in place, which is scheduled to expire next year.

If the override is defeated, next year will be the last year of those taxes as opposed to the first of seven years of new taxes.

The PVUSD Governing Board argues, since it has been unable to adopt new instructional materials for four years, “approximately 90 percent of these funds will be dedicated to doing just that.”

Weaver, who is also chair of the Political Action Committee Prop13 Arizona, wrote an opposition statement that appears in the pamphlet, stating, “The total PVUSD budget is approximately $300 million. Funding received from the state was reduced by $3.2 million during the 2010-11 school year, a reduction of less than 1.5 percent.”

She went on to say, “The board approved a budget with nothing allotted for text books. Now they propose a $5.9 million [per year] override for ‘instructional materials’ otherwise called text books. Text books are a priority budget item, not an excuse to raise taxes.”

And, like the requested $203 million bond to build new facilities, when those facilities are built, Weaver believes the district will come back to the voters for another budget override so it can hire employees to work in those new facilities.

Weaver recounted that ploy being utilized by the city of Phoenix in 2006, whereas it first had taxpayers pass bonds to build facilities, then, after the facilities were built, the city came back to voters for yet another tax increase to hire police and firefighters to staff those new facilities.

In his opposition statement, John Delasaux, a Republican Legislative District 7 precinct committeeman, wrote, “Increasing taxes at this time seriously strains the budgets of individual households, in this time of fragile economic recovery.

“PVUSD needs to get a clear message from the voters that many taxpayers … have a cash flow problem in these tough times.”

The ballot arguments in favor of the capital override blame state funding cuts on the district’s lack of “ability to make sure students have the best tools to succeed.”

Proponents say more taxes are what will attract business and investment to Phoenix and argue quality can neither be maintained nor improved with the current level of funding.

Thom Von Hapsburg, president of Kiwanis Desert Ridge chimed in with, “Our children must be prepared to enter the 21st Century workforce, and it takes all of us to assure them opportunity,” claiming, “PVUSD’s capital budget for books, furniture and instructional materials has been reduced by the state legislature from $7.2 million to $145,000!”

Weaver pointed out how Von Hapsburg snuck “furniture” into the equation to create the alarming reduction in funding figure.

John Kriekard, a retired PVUSD superintendent, notes in his argument, “Every penny is allocated for materials and to a much smaller extent, vehicle maintenance. None is going toward salaries.”

By law, the district cannot use capital budget override funds for salaries.

On another note, the state of Arizona does not require school districts to provide pupil transportation.

In other words, no pupil transportation means no vehicles, vehicle maintenance, bus drivers or bus parking/storage facilities.

Getting back to the “Cultivating world-class thinkers” tag line printed on the cover of the informational pamphlet, it appears school districts have their logos printed on the cover of their respective pamphlets.

And, while the majority of school districts’ logos feature some graphic enhancements to the name of the district, it seems a few districts have incorporated tag lines and other information into their logos.

For example, Buckeye Union High School District, states: “Serving the Southwest Valley Since 1921.”

Madison Elementary School District touts: “Outstanding Schools Since 1890.”

Riverside Elementary School District takes the Latin approach with its logo, which is flanked by laurel leaves, stating, “Excellentia in Erudio” (Excellence in Education), followed by: “Est. 1872” and “Private Education in a Public School Setting.”

Roosevelt Elementary School District’s logo is a picture of a globe with the initials RSD and a banner proclaiming: “World Class District.”

So, apparently, if a propaganda statement is incorporated into the district’s logo, it may appear on the cover of the informational pamphlet.

Voters have also long complained about false statements being published as arguments either for or against ballot measures.

However, as Maricopa County Elections Communications Director Yvonne Reed explained years ago, these are publicity pamphlets, and the elections department neither edits nor fact-checks submissions.

Reed said so long as the argument meets the word limit requirement and contains no profanity it will be printed in the pamphlet.