By Zachary Richardson, Sedona Resident
(November 6, 2013)
The Override campaign was a great learning experience for everyone. Though the Override won the election, there were still a number of people who voted against it, which is frustrating. Many who criticized the campaign had sound concerns about the state of education in our country, though that is unrelated to the Override, and supporting the Override is actually a way to address many of those concerns within our community. Others had misinformation that could have been easily clarified if they took the time to accurately research the facts and visit the schools. Some voters had concerns about the performing arts center which is a community issue that needs to be addressed by the community and not just the school district, but also unrelated to the Override. And some people just like to vote NO, no matter what the subject.
By not investing in education is like cutting your feet off so you do not have to invest in shoes. With either scenario, one cannot move forward. Cutting funding is not the way to improve education the same way cutting military funding is not the way to win a losing war. Override funding is basic funding for our schools and not for anything that is above and beyond the norm.
Why is the Override important to Sedona? Because without the Override funding, our school district will not be able to continue with all the wonderful programs that has made our district outstanding. These accomplishes are way too long to list here and are rarely covered in the media because they are positive news, though it is what attracts so many people to Sedona who service our community.
Fortunately the majority of Sedona residents see how great our school district is and how critical it is to our community for them to support it with local property tax. We just need to get everyone else on board.
Our community has had many issues that have divided us. It would be nice if we could all rally around education and our schools as a hub for unity.
It is disingenuous to make a statement that the Sedona Performing Arts Center (SPAC) has nothing to do with the Override. Taxpayers are still paying for the new high school bond issue of $73 million which included SAPAC and a solar field which has nothing to do with educating students. SPAC was the icing that got the voters to approve the bond issue.
It is TAX money – misspent and now mismanaged. When you (Mr. Richardson) made the statement in writing that SPAC would be CLOSED if the override did not pass, that certainly conflicts to your statement today that the override has nothing to do with SPAC.
The override was pushed through at its maximum amount. Because maximum amounts of money extracted from the taxpayer is what politicians, schools and other government run entities do. Would it have been necessary to ask for the maximum amount if SPAC was not losing $50,000 a year due to mismanagement by the school board?
Would the taxpayers have a better attitude if a net $7 million solar field that saves the school $10,000 a month (your own numbers) result in a lifetime savings before replacement is required of $2.7 million, only costing the taxpayer a net loss of $4.3 million due to someone’s fantasy? That could have paid the salaries of teachers and M&O for a YEAR!
Mr. Richardson, you and your operation are now under the microscope. You had a good political organization and fooled a lot of people. You have a five year reprieve before the voters will have the opportunity to review your performance.
Your AIMS scores are not good, the letters we received from ex teachers and parents about the dissatisfaction of how the system is run were quite revealing and the rating of the three schools as compared to Camp Verde (no override) are not that impressive no matter how you want to spin it. The student population is dropping and the Charter Schools seem to be doing better.
You have five years to show us what you can do. If you continue business as usual, an organized organization will be ready to fight any additional override vote. And it WILL be funded properly.
On the other hand, it is up to you, your staff and the administration to show the 40+% of the people that voted against the override that you DID get the message that much improvement is needed. If we, the people who are funding the operation see that improvement, then you will have an ally instead of a foe.
It was not our intention to kill the override forever; it was our intention as stated in our ads to postpone the override for a year as unlimited dollars flowing into any government entity only leads to waste and inefficiency. We as taxpayers want BETTER value for our dollars, and so do the parents of the kids whose futures lie in the hands of an education system that is not doing what it needs to do to keep our kids competitive in the 21st century.
As I have told you before – Starting back in 2008, I had concerns regarding the $73 Million Bond and SPAC, that are well documented. My concerns became realizations that we now have to deal with. So I sympathize with your comments above.
All the suggestions you recommended for dealing with SPAC in your campaign had been looked at years ago by several groups, with no success. Maybe the wrong people looked at them and we can revisit them again?
Because the facility is on school property, it has a number of restrictions on its use. No alcohol can be served at the facility, events cannot be held there during school hours, parking is extremely limited, and school events have priority over outside events because the original auditorium was demolished to make room for this new facility. These were all known facts when the building was constructed on school property.
The piece to the puzzle that everyone misses is that the school district really did not want SPAC on their campus. The community was looking for a place to build a performing arts center and the school district provided a venue for its construction. The school district is not in the business of running a performing arts center. SPAC was constructed there as a community project as a community facility, only the community backed away from supporting the facility financially, and left the school district with this financial drain and a black eye. It is that old saying – “No good deed goes unpunished”!
You can hide behind your microscopes, but a more prudent approach would be to roll up the sleeves and help find a solution. The school district hired a consultant several years ago to create a SPAC strategic plan which is a good start for a solution, but not the answer.
The election is over. Let’s put down the daggers and start working together as a community. You will find that we agree on much more than what we disagree on.
Where are the expected rebuttals from Daniel J. Sullivan, MD, JD and Angela LeFevre?