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home : opinions : opinions May 24, 2016

10/19/2013 2:58:00 PM
Letter: Faulty premise to tie $$$ to quality of education


I have dear friends who support the override. It is not my intent to offend them, but to simply question their premise. Their premise is that excellent education is connected to money.

Yes, I have been a part of a charter school for over 18 years. I am now retired.

One thing I have come to know is that you will never see a charter school on your property taxes. Charters are not allowed to bond, to do overrides, to receive money for buildings or have money for busing.

Charters receive approximately $ 1,700 less per student than public schools, and their mortgages are not paid by tax bonds ... money comes from their maintenance and operation funds. So how do charters compare to district schools that can tax your property?

Out of the top 10 "A" rated schools in the state, five are charters. Out of the top five "A" rated schools in Yavapai County three are charter.

Yavapai County top five

"A" rated schools:

1. Arizona Agriculture and Business, Charter, no property tax

2. Ashfork Middle School, District, property tax

3. Tri-City Prep, Charter, no property tax

4. Granville Elementary, District, property tax

5. American Heritage Academy, Charter, Camp Verde Campus, no property tax

Verde Valley top five

"A" rated schools

1. American Heritage Academy, Charter, Camp Verde Campus, no property tax

2. Desert Star, Charter, no property tax

3. Red Rock High School, District, property tax

4. Sedona Charter, Charter, no property tax

5. Verde Valley Montessori, Charter, no property tax

I hope the forgoing illustrates that supporters of the override present a faulty premise, that an override is necessary for excellent education. Charters remain in the top of the "A" rated schools and yet operate without overrides. Let's REDUCE taxes not "keep them the same."

Vicki Jo Anderson


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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, November 10, 2013
Article comment by: Slater slater

By the vote count the Nays are creeping up
the spend less on everything ballot.How will we ever survive without the Gov keeping folks
under their thumb by keeping them on the couch with beer and smoke?
What was I thinking that's my job.

Posted: Saturday, November 9, 2013
Article comment by: Slater slater


Posted: Saturday, November 9, 2013
Article comment by: John Smith

Hey Vicki Jo how much are you and the hubby still being paid by tax payer dollars. One last question, do you also own the property, buildings and all other parts of AHA on the tax payer dime. Just an honest answer would be appreciated!

Posted: Friday, November 8, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@ itsy bitsy Spider
I see what you mean. By the way, I just dug up a comment that claimed Barbara U'Ren suggested chartering Oak Creek School in at least 2010. This wasn't mentioned in the article: Cornville fights closing of Oak Creak School, 4/24/10

Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

I'm not going to ask where you got $170,000, Ms Heartman. If you're still "plodding" through the ins and outs of school $$$, I left a message for you on "U'Ren takes a year-end look back and ahead" VI 12/26/12

Posted: Friday, October 25, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@ Nothing but the truth
Right, it is now. But the whole truth, as extensively reported in the VI, is that MVP opened at DDB in 2011 as a traditional public school, later referred to as a magnet. It was chartered in 2012, just as it was moving to the Tavasi campus for its 2012-2013 school year. ARS says district charters have to wait a year before receiving the supplement, so MVP didn't get the extra $1,000+ per student until this 2013-2014 school year.

Does this make fiscal sense to you? Barbara U'ren and the Board insisted everything was about coping with C-OCSD's "funding crisis." But they blew some $170,00, not counting all the errors in judgment. More than that when you figure Tavasi was fully enrolled with no startup and relocation costs. I have to be missing something here. They aren't intellectually disabled.

Posted: Friday, October 25, 2013
Article comment by: It seems to me:

State funding also comes from taxpayers.

District charters are double-dipping at the expense of traditional public schools, state-sponsored charters, and taxpayers state-wide.

Posted: Friday, October 25, 2013
Article comment by: Nothing but the Truth!

@ Mary Heartman

The district did their homework...MVP is a charter within the district (not a magnet) that captures those extra eligible funds

Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@ Autonomous Benefactor
I found it! Thank you! And you're right. "District Additional Assistance": state- and district-sponsored charters will receive $1,684.19 to $1,962.90 per student extra next year, as opposed to $420.18 to $613.10 for traditional schools. There's Paradise Valley's estimated $1,000-plus per student.

So then, why open MVP as a magnet? Better yet, why not charter Tavasi without all the extra legal and reorganization costs?

Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Article comment by: Who's Forgetting?

Agreed that special needs students don't necessarily pull averages down. But something is pulling MVP's down. Could it be the fact MVP has lots more students than any of the other charters in the area, and many of these kids wouldn't be attending a college prep specializing in international relations if that wasn't the only way to keep them from being bused out of their neighborhood?

Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Article comment by: Don't forget MVP

Mountain View Prep has more limited English students than Desert Star. Montessori doesn't have any 2nd language. MVP also has disabilities and disadvantaged students and their all doing great. You should get your facts straight Mr. Spider.

Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

Are you always so misinformed, Mr. Nothing-but?

Not all the schools Ms. Anderson listed are charters. Of those that are, American Heritage, VVMontessori, and Desert Star certainly do have students with disabilities and other challenges. They simply haven't pulled the average down, even in very small classes.

Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Article comment by: To Mary Hartman

My apologies, Mary. I didn't mean to send anyone plodding through Title 15. But you've just proved the override and bond loophole by NOT finding any restrictions on districts' sharing funds with their district-sponsored charters.

As for funding, everyone has different figures because they include different funding categories. This from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the most inclusive I've found:
"Arizona law calculates a base support level for each charter school and these funds flow directly to charter schools (for those approved by the ASBCS). For those approved by a local district board, it flows through that district.
For charter schools authorizers by local school boards, transportation may be provided by the district. For other charter schools, they do not receive state transportation aid (nor are they required to provide transportation).
In a recent national study of charter school funding (Charter School Funding: Inequity Persists, 2010), Arizona charter schools were receiving on average $7,597 per pupil, while traditional public schools would have received $9,576 for those students. As a result, the state's charter schools were receiving $1,979 per pupil - or 20.7% - less than what the traditional public schools would have received for those students. This figure includes all sources of funding, and analysis reveals some continued significant inequities for both operational and capital funding."

As far as the $1000 more figure, I got my info from the Arizona Republic. Check out ARS Title 15 Charters "Additional Assistance." I think you'll find charters get some $1000 more in per pupil allocation than traditional public schools (the $362.84 to $613.10 per head in SB1487) and this can be used for construction and maintenance to make up for no overrides or bonds.

I'd do the math, but I stopped wondering which way to go on the overrides when I saw that article. Mingus = Yes COC=No

Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Article comment by: Not a clue among you

Desert Star Cornville Charter School, has at least 3 students that do not speak English. They have a speech therapist serving several students and many autistic and learning disabled students who all receive services. They appear to have as many special needs support staff as they do actual teachers. In addition to teaching art, music, violin, handwork and woodworking. They also go on several field trips throughout the year at all grade levels and provide all day kindergarten with a full time teacher.

Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Article comment by: To Bronco Lane

I wish it were that simple. Some charters specialize in programs for gifted children. Others specialize in programs for special needs children. Others simply provide different curriculums and approaches. (If athletics beyond supervised recess is important to you, you probably could find a charter that focuses on educating athletes.) The only things they all have in common is that they are public school alternatives to traditional, all-inclusive courses of study. They are all required to accept all students within their geographic area, but don't have to maintain programs and staff for any eventuality. At the moment, American Heritage, Desert Star, Montessori, and MVP all have students in special needs categories, and most seem to be doing quite well without the special programs.

However, I have to agree with you. Traditional or charter, Tavasi Elementary's emphasis on special needs was a much needed addition to our entire community and all the schools within it.

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