By Suzette Orah
(October 22, 2013)
We all agree on one thing! Proper education is most important. Lack of good education creates ignorance and prejudice. This in turn creates war and terrorism.
I also understand the need for funds to support teachers and better education.
However, I do question the need to ask the already overburdened Sedona taxpayers with another tax increase to get this funding. If we vote yes without seeing the full picture, we are voting for additional taxes. The school has avenues to fund itself, IF it operates like a business, with correct priorities in place.
Sedona Performing Arts Center cost millions of dollars to build and it looses $50.000 a year! SPAC belongs to the Sedona School district. If there were a professional management in place and a business plan, the income would have paid for better teachers. Then, the school would not have been in an unfortunate ‘begging’ situation from the taxpayers. SPAC’s successful and PROFITABLE operation will also bring in additional income to our city of Sedona: the hotels, restaurants and stores will all benefit, in high season as well as low season, when we need the business. It’s a win-win situation.
Remember: We only have 490 students! That’s all. Our taxes for the school are already over 40% of our total tax bill. That’s a lot.
This is a very emotional issue. We need to step back a little, see the reality of the situation, find better solutions, and not allow our emotions cloud our decisions.
We all want to have a good school system in Sedona. However, asking for more taxes to support an operation that if managed correctly, could support itself, is not correct. Before I vote yes on the override, I would like to see priorities in expenditures. I would like to see the willingness to self-fund at least by operating SPAC professionally and successfully. I would then be the first one to say CONGRATULATIONS to a perfectly managed and operated high school district!
There is a lot more to the story of how the performing arts center ended up on the high school campus. It was built as a community project, not a school project and I was against the project from the start. In 2009 as the building was being constructed, I demonstrated how this building would be a financial drag on the school district and a frustration for our community. For starters, there is not even enough parking to accommodate the building, and it goes on from there. Our community now has this building, and we need to get together for a solution as to how it will service our community. Do not expect this building to make money and do not hold the school district accountable for its performance – it is a community project.
Performing art centers are never profitable – they all rely on sponsors and donors. The name of the facility has always been up for sale – I even suggested that Mike Schroeder donate $2 million and we could call it the Dish Network Performing Art Center.
The bottom line is that the Override is totally unrelated to the performing art center. With or without the override passing, the school district cannot afford to maintain this building for our community. If the override does not pass, this building will become an even bigger casualty. At this point, there are many more questions than answers.
Actually Mr. Richardson you never mentioned one thing to me or the company I work for about sponsoring the Sedona Performing Arts Center, so why you make a statement like that is delusional.
You say that the Arts center has nothing to do with the school, but in fact it was an inducement to get the taxpayers to approve the school bond. Then after it was built, the previous school board refused to allow sponsorships, or the sponsoring of seats as was done at the Mark Fisher Theater, and also refused to hire a professional promoter when the salary for that promoter was going to be funded by outside sources. And now the taxpayer is paying that bond off.
If a regular high school would have been built, with a regular football field, instead of an NFL specified field, millions wasted in a solar filed that is a taxpayer loser, maybe the money could have created more of an environment that teaches kids rather than launching people’s pet projects.
It is time for the school board to man up, and start working with the city and the Chamber to use this resource for the benefit of local businesses bringing an added benefit to the community as it was originally presented.
Ms. Romm, a school teacher stated “Bond money and state (and override) budget money are two different legal entities. By law, bond money cannot be used for district day-to-day operations, and state and override money cannot be used to build or remodel district facilities.
If these two are separate, then why are you threatening to close the Sedona Performing Arts Center if the Budget Override does not go through? It is obvious that the bond money paid for the facility, and cannot be used for day to day operations, but SPAC is losing $50K a year which is coming out if M&O and the public sees no action to correct that except go to the taxpayer for more money. And I will remind Ms. Romm that the bond issue and the M&O still comes out of the SAME taxpayer pockets.
We are tired of waste and building monuments when the objective is to teach kids how to make it in the real world. And solar fields, fancy football fields and great complexes like SPAC seem just a bit off track, to the tune of MILLIONS of dollars.
If the NO vote wins, then we, the public will be watching how the board turns this around. We want to see some creative thinking. We want some aggressive marketing. Show the public that you can educate the kids at least as good as Camp Verde without an override, and when you can demonstrate that, let’s discuss what an override of a smaller percentage might accomplish and where that money will go to make our kids better to meet the challenges of the world.
Mr Schroeder , You seem a little mean spirited. . Do you have children in this district?
[Comment removed by Editor]
Thanks for your response but I have to disagree with you on the profitability of SPAC.
1- I worked for large and smaller Convention Centers, in charge of meetings and entertainment. I also specialize in the management of Meetings, Incentives and Event organization. If managed by the right professional person, SPAC has a GREAT, 100% potential of making money.
2- It does have plenty of parking – why is it that during the Film Festival and other events there are no parking problems there at the school? There is also more than ample parking at the Cultural Park. People use both parking areas with no problem at all.
3- We do not need to pump $2 Million into this building, again, or change it’s name. It’s not always about pumping more $$, it’s about hiring the right person who will be making a sound Business and Marketing/Advertising plan. This will cost much, much less than $2 Million.
We see again and again, that we pump money into projects (Barbara’s Park, for one) without doing a feasibility plan, looking at logistics – will it be profitable, who is our target market, how are we going to attract our target market, what are the operation costs, who will manage it, what’s the expected income on the first year, second, etc.
Again, the solution is not pumping money, asking overburdened taxpayers for more, when it can be solved by above solutions.
4- Having extensive experience in Sales, Marketing, Operation of Convention Centers, I know for a fact, that SPAC can bring in, for the first year, over half a million dollars.
Why don’t we try this for 1-2 years before rushing into Override? Why not exhaust all options and avenues?
With a professional management, instead of loosing $50.000 a year with SPAC, I guarantee, You WILL make money!
One more thing –
…This is how I can help with the school’s budget problem and I will be delighted to bring you proof that it will bring in money.
Obviously you have not spent enough time researching the issue of this facility nor do you understand what the override actually has done for our school district over the past 17 years.
It is easy to criticize anything – if you really want to help, please construct a business plan for this facility and I would enjoy discussing it with you. Many people, including myself, have spent years trying to figure this one out. MAYBE you have the answer, but your statement about parking for the Film Festival indicates you have done absolutely NO research to date!
MAYBE you have the answer, but your comment about the parking issue shows that you have done ABSOLUTELY no research on this issue or the building. There are many facts you need to understand before you can make the statements you made above.
It is always easy to criticize, now please put together a business plan as to how you think this building can make money. I would be glad to discuss it with you.
You might also want to research what the Override has done for our school district over the past 17 years. You seem to be misinformed on this issue also.
Thank you for your suggestion. I will be delighted to do a Business Plan for this facility. Let’s get together after these elections.
Maybe I am misinformed about what the override did for this school, but I am looking at the present situation, not the past, and find ways to maximize our resources. I do not want to get into what has been done that was wasted resources. Mike Schroeder already mentioned this.
Again, we can’t do anything about the past. Let’s look forward, get productive and get SPAC become profitable.