Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How to ride over a school budget without getting caught

Note: This column appears in the 2/18 issue of The Glendale Star and the 2/19 issue of the Peoria Times

There’s been a lot of talk about overrides lately. Not by myself in particular –- I usually just talk about fantasy baseball –- but in this paper and in the community.

To be quite honest, I had no idea what an override even was until, spurned on by its newfound popularity, I decided to look further into it. It was like the time my wife said, “That Lady Gaga song is awesome!” and I was like, “Who is Lady Gaga?” and so I decided to do more research and discovered that Lady Gaga is a man.

It is that kind of research that you, the faithful reader, can trust. And it is in that vein that I come before you to explain the current override situation.
An override is, by definition, a verb that means “to ride over.” Clever, right? In this particular instance, what we want to do is ride over –- not literally, with our monster pickup trucks, so let's not go crazy...but with our votes -– the state’s potential to take more money away from our schools.

Both the Deer Valley School District and the Glendale Elementary School District are currently seeking 15 percent overrides. Each district is hosting elections on March 9th and hoping the overrides pass. If they do not, the state will begin making budget cuts next school year.

Override supporters –- as the paparazzi have dubbed them –- are attempting to rally everyone together in the name of maintaining the status quo, which is just about the funnest and most rewarding job I can imagine. And that is the kind of sarcasm that could be lost on kids without the proper education. Because the fact of the matter is that if these respective overrides do not pass, the results will be devastating to our schools. Millions of dollars of funding lost in the coming years.

To vote yes on the override means to vote for a slight increase in the tax rate. It’s miniscule in nature but adds up to about $120 annually for the average homeowner. And while voting to pay more –- especially voting to pay more as a means of simply keeping things they way they are –- isn’t necessarily the greatest motivator, it is, cliché or not, an investment in our future. A higher tax rate is inconvenient, yes, but so is math class in the boiler room.

I mean, it’s really a no-brainer, right? Says Brenda Bartels, chairperson of Citizens in Support of Glendale Elementary Override, “Please don’t assume it’s a no-brainer.” Alrighty then. In fact, the last GESD override election failed. An override election in the Peoria Unified School District this past November had similar results, which is why talks of another override election there have already begun.

Whether people have been unaware of what’s happening or unwilling to accept a higher rate, a failure of these overrides to pass will have long-lasting and far-reaching effects. That’s why I say, let’s override these budgets all the way to Yuma.
It may not be a no-brainer, but that’s exactly the type of kid we’re voting for by not voting at all.

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