Candidates define what the proposed capital override could mean for Scottsdale Schools

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The three candidates left running for Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board are entering the final leg of the race to be voted on at the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election.

The candidates running for the board are incumbent Barbara Perleberg, and newcomers Allyson Beckham and Sandy Kravetz.
Former candidates George Jackson and Mary Roaf have both withdrawn from the race.

School board members serve a four-year term on the board. Members Pam Kirby and Kim Hartmann’s terms end at the end of 2018.

Scottsdale Schools includes 30 schools serving about 24,500 students, according to the district’s website. More than 3,000 people are employed by the district, including about 1,550 teachers.

The district’s boundaries include most, but not all of, the city of Scottsdale, Town of Paradise Valley and sections of the cities of Phoenix and Tempe.

Additionally, Scottsdale Schools voters will also be deciding upon a $229 million bond initiative and an $8.5 million capital override at the November general election.

The Scottsdale Independent is hosting a candidate forum in the Kiva at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. 6-8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3. Reporter Melissa Fittro will be moderating the forum.

Leading up to the October forum the Independent is offering candidates an opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer series to help voters better understand where they stand on local issues that matter.

This week’s installment asks candidates about the $8.5 million capital override, which the governing board approved June 7 to ask taxpayers to help fund needs in and out of the classroom district officials say are critical.

An override would give the school district approval to exceed its state-imposed budget limit by spending money generated by secondary property taxes.

During a June 2 study session, Scottsdale Schools Chief Financial Officer Daniel O’Brien presented to the Governing Board his recommendation of an $8.5 million annual override for seven years to pay for items such as classroom technology, athletics and fine arts.

The budget increase would affect property taxes by an estimated tax rate of .18 cents per $100 of net assessed valuation, according to the June 7 meeting agenda.

The district is proposing the capital override be used toward:

  • Classroom technology and infrastructure: $4.9 million;
  • Furniture/fixtures/equipment: $800,000;
  • Fine Arts: $500,000;
  • Curriculum: $1.4 million;
  • Athletics: $250,000;
  • Playground equipment and code compliance: $350,000;
  • Library (including digital resources): $300,000.

Other items needed to be paid for include district-wide software licensing on computers, classroom textbooks that are out of date and worn out physical education equipment.

Here’s what the candidates had to say:

Allyson Beckham

Allyson Beckham

Allyson Beckham

Do you support the passing of an $8.5 million override on the November election? Why or why not?

Yes, I support the capital override on the November ballot. I believe the best investment we can make is in the education of our children. Until the state of Arizona has a substantial financial surplus to raise funding for public education, local communities — if they are able and willing — should be able to support and invest in their local school districts through capital overrides and bonds. We are fortunate to live in a thriving city that values education, as well as its families, businesses, and economy.  Passing the override is the smart decision for our Scottsdale community.

If passed, where do you think that money should be used? Are there specific programs you would propose the money goes toward?

Capital overrides are regulated by state statute. Therefore, SUSD has already outlined the proposed uses of the override on its website. These categories include curriculum materials, technology, fine arts, athletics, furniture, playground equipment and safety code compliance, etc.  To determine which specific programs should receive funds, I would gather input from principals and teachers to see where the money could be best used at each school.

Sandy Kravetz

Sandy Kravetz

Sandy Kravetz

Do you support the passing of an $8.5 million override on the November election? Why or why not?

Yes, I support the passage of the $8.5 million capital override on the November ballot. Scottsdale Unified School District’s previous capital override expired two years ago and this override will reinstate a source of funding that is earmarked specifically for investments inside the classroom such as textbooks, curriculum materials, library books, technology and equipment necessary for effective teaching.

While some of our schools may have parent-teacher organizations that can underwrite these expenditures, several of our schools are not as fortunate. Additionally, some of these items are greater than what a parent-teacher organization can fund in a timely matter.

If passed, where do you think that money should be used? Are there specific programs you would propose the money goes toward?

My initial priorities include funding updated textbooks, as needed. In addition to text books, several of our middle and high schools cannot afford to purchase class sets of literature. Sadly, it is not uncommon for teachers to rely on students to check out limited copies of a book from the school or city library, or for parents to buy assigned reading. If a school doesn’t have a class set, does this limit what our students are reading?

Additionally, our district must consider updating technology so our students are college and career ready. Since technology becomes obsolete quickly, SUSD should consider purchase or lease options, which ever is more economical and prudent in the long run.

My next priority is ensuring that all of our schools are as safe as possible. Unfortunately, we now live in a world, where campuses are not impervious to violence. Our district must make sure that our students, teachers and staff are safe and that our campuses are open to only those that belong on premises.
I believe it is imperative that the board receive input from teachers, site councils, and site administrators about each school’s specific needs, to ascertain that these expenditures are appropriate for each campus.

Barbara Perleberg

Do you support the passing of an $8.5 million override on the November election? Why or why not?

Our previous capital override expired last year and I supported responsible fiscal planning that stretched those dollars through this fiscal year. The restoration

Barbara Perleberg

Barbara Perleberg

of this funding will allow our district’s new leadership and our educators to continue their focus on student learning and improving instruction in our classrooms. I do hope our SUSD community will support the capital override.

If passed, where do you think that money should be used? Are there specific programs you would propose the money goes toward?

The capital override is critical funding that protects classroom dollars and pays for many items that a bond program cannot, such as technology, curriculum, fine arts and library materials, athletic and playground equipment, and a variety of other capital expenses. It is a funding source that only our local community can provide and, with the state budget reducing capital outlay more than 85 percent over the past few years, it is a necessary tool in supporting the needs of our schools.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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