Cottonwood - Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Superintendent Barbara U'Ren recently presented override information to the district governing board. The board has officially called for an override election on the November 3 ballot. Early ballots will go out Oct. 1.
State law allows school districts to use property taxes to go over their maintenance and operations budgets by either 5 percent or 10 percent. C-OC has a 10 percent override that the district wants to have voters continue.
Once voters approve an override, the district receives additional funding for seven years, but after five years, the district's funding decreases. During the sixth year, the amount decreases by one-third, and during the seventh year it decreases by two-thirds. Voters must authorize a continuation if the district is to avoid the decreased funding provided by the override.
U'Ren explained that unless voters approve the continuation in November, the district would receive $379,640 less money from the override in fiscal year 2010-2011. It will receive $759,280 less in 2011-2012, and it will receive $1,138,920 less in 2012-2013. In fiscal year 2013-2014 the district will not receive any funding from the budget override.
According to U'Ren, the 2008-09 district budget was $13 million, including the override. She said that 88 percent of the district's budget goes to salary and benefits. The district is estimating a decrease next year from the state of $1.2 million. These reductions have already affected staffing and class size for fiscal year 2009-2010. U'Ren said the loss of the override funding would mean further and profound cuts.
U'Ren said that without the override funds the district would have to reduce class size and programs such as music and physical education. Technology education would have to be cut along with the advanced learner program. Intervention programs and extra-curricular programs also would be cut. In addition, 11 teachers would be cut from the district staff.
By voting to continue the district's budget override taxpayers will not be increasing their own taxes. The override's tax rate is already in place.
Based on fiscal year 2008-2009, the average homeowner pays approximately 8.3 cents per day for the district's override. U'Ren says that is $2.52 a month for the additional teachers and programs the override funds provide.
Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District is the largest school district in the Verde Valley with 2,500 pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students. The district has five campuses: Dr. Daniel Bright School serves kindergarten through second grade; Cottonwood Elementary school serves third through fifth grades; Cottonwood Middle School serves sixth through eighth grades; Oak Creek Elementary is a country K-8 school serving the Cornville area; and Tavasci Elementary serves the Verde Village area for kindergarten through fifth grades.