Sat, April 04

Voters approve overrides for schools<br><i>Supplemental funding measures win by 2-1 ratio</i>

Thanks to voters in two Cottonwood school districts, administrators and board members will not have to cut vital programs.

Residents in Mingus Union and Cottonwood-Oak Creek school districts overwhelmingly approved two override measures on Tuesday's ballot.

Sharyl Allen, superintendent of Mingus Union High School District, said the vote results were incredibly encouraging.

"I'm just joyous with the solid support this community gives to education at all levels," Allen said.

Mingus district residents cast 1,328 votes in favor of the override, and 637 against.

Allen said the 2-to-1 ratio of votes for the override reflected the community's support and a tremendous amount of effort on the part of volunteers who worked to get the measure passed.

She said that when administrators or volunteers were spreading their message, the community strongly supported passage of the supplemental funding. "It didn't matter if it was people with kids, business owners or retirees; the people were supportive," Allen said.

The Mingus override was for an extension of a 10-percent increase in funding that was originally approved 1985. Currently, the school receives more than $500,000 annually from the supplemental funding.

If voters had turned down the measure, school officials said many vital programs would have been cut. Some programs now supported by the override are daily bus routes, some extracurricular activities, teaching supplies, student support services and lower student-to-teacher ratios.

Julie Larson, superintendent of Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District, had a similar reaction Wednesday morning to the election results.

"I'm exceedingly thankful to the community for supporting the schools," Larson said. "I'm just delighted for our children and teachers."

Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District's override was approved with 1,153 votes for the measure, and 592 against.

Larson said that without voter approval for an extension and increase in her district's override, the schools were looking at serious cutbacks.

During the months leading up to the election, Larson outlined some of those cutbacks. Without the extension and increase, elementary schools in Cottonwood and Cornville could have lost their full-day kindergarten programs and teachers for music and physical education. In addition, Larson said Cottonwood Middle School likely would have lost its athletic programs. Also at danger of being cut or reduced were nursing and counseling services.

Cottonwood-Oak Creek's current override has been providing about $427,000 in supplemental funding each year. Now that voters have approved bumping the override to 10 percent, the districts supplemental funding will double.

Larson pointed out that the district spends about $447,000 a year providing full-day kindergarten, which is not covered through state funding.

"When the community supports you in this way, it makes everyone work that much harder," Larson said.

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