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Why Support Proposition 494

Residents of the Tanque Verde Unified School District (TVUSD) should vote YES on Proposition 494 in the upcoming election. Without a YES vote TVUSD will lose more than $2.25 million in education funding. This would be detrimental to district students and the Tanque Verde community.


The Tanque Verde valley, and TVUSD, are Arizona gems; they are precious and should be protected. With a history dating back more than 150 years, the Tanque Verde valley is a unique community; and particularly desirable in terms of residential real-estate. Many of our neighbors, including my own family, moved to Tanque Verde for the same reasons: a quiet community and the quality of life; for the spectacular views of Tucson, and the surrounding Santa Catalina and Rincon mountain ranges; but most importantly we moved to Tanque Verde for the schools.


The TVUSD Schools are known for their Excellence: Agua Calliente Elementary, Tanque Verde Elementary, Emily Gray Junior High, and Tanque Verde High School; are A+ schools. They consistently rank among the highest academic scores in the state. The district has been recognized for many awards, including its fiscally responsible administrative practices and garnered the Award For Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.


A 1980s amendment to the Arizona Constitution imposed revenue control limits that restrict the district’s ability to properly fund the Excellent Education our district constituents and students expect; this funding mechanism helps get local dollars straight to the intended schools. The disparity in funding from one district to another across the state is fundamentally unfair. TVUSD does not receive the same per-student funding rate that other nearby districts receive. In fact TVUSD receives substantially less funding per student, from the state and federal government than neighboring districts, yet outperforms those neighbors year after year in school academic scores and grades.


While education funding may be a constant political pawn at the state capital, it isn’t here at the Tanque Verde local level. This is far less of a politically divided issue than one may think. I’ve had neighbors across the political spectrum, ask me very similar questions about Proposition 494, and I’ve replied the same way to each. “Vote YES on Prop 494.” While we may not always agree on the path to take, in our discussions it’s clear that we all want a similar result: Excellence in Education at TVUSD. To achieve this goal we need to vote YES on Prop 494. Some have questioned if approving such a revenue override is giving TVUSD permission to overspend its budget. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In a recent review of the TVUSD budget by the governing board, administrative costs and non-teacher salary overhead spending were very low, as a percentage of total budget. In short, TVUSD has been and will continue to be good stewards of the financial investments the Tanque Verde community has made in the students of our community.


A YES vote for Proposition 494 is a vote in support of continuing the district’s maintenance and operations budgets consistent with funding that has been in place since 2014. To be clear, this is not a new tax; it is approval to continue a levy that directly funds district programs and initiatives that are not being funded by the state or federal government, including: music and arts at all of our schools, the Advanced Placement (AP) courses at the high school, the gifted education program at the elementary schools (often referred to as the GATE program), science labs at all four schools, and school nurses and librarians, among many other beneficial programs. Without a YES vote of Proposition 494 the funding for all of these programs will end. No more art and music enrichment. No more advance science and math programs. On site emergent medical care at each school will end. Some teaching positions may have to be eliminated or salaries dramatically cut, and class sizes will be increased. Without Prop 494, Excellence in Education ends.


Vote YES on Proposition 494, vote YES on continuing to invest in Tanque Verde’s future.


Respectfully,

Thomas Trask,

Candidate for Tanque Verde Unified School District, No13, Governing Board.


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