These views are my own and do not reflect those of the Oracle School Board. During the recent election, I realized I hadn’t worked hard enough to ensure voters were properly informed about what was at stake with the override continuation for the Oracle School District.
One voter even told me he was going to vote no because he knew that the cost would double in five years due to compounding interest. I am not sure what he meant, because this wasn’t a bond election but an override. It would have continued the local funding previously approved (twice) by District voters. The amount currently paid is $2.25 per month per $100,000 of full market value, or less than $10 per month per average homeowner. We predicted no change to that amount.
The funding the override would have continued isn’t “nice to have” money. It is critical funding that goes directly into the classrooms in the form of textbooks, reasonable class sizes and professional development for teachers. We’ve already cut music and art this year in the Oracle School District, decisions that were painful to make and hopefully, are temporary.
After all, research shows that students are most prepared for college careers, and full participation in our democracy, when they have a well-rounded education.
For now though, bringing back these programs is more a future goal than a near reality. That’s why I was beyond disappointed the communities of the Oracle School District allowed the renewal of the override to be defeated.
It was all the more painful because it was a fairly close vote; the referendum, as of Nov. 8, was unofficially defeated by only 60 votes, or 1.26 percent. Our election was one of seven in Pinal County that failed, 100 percent, even though around the state 26 of 47 M&O overrides passed in Arizona this year for a 55 percent passage rate, close to the historical average since 2007.
In the end though, I guess it doesn’t matter by how many votes the override lost. It only takes one and unfortunately in the end, innocent children are the ones who lose most. They deserve a good education not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because “establishment and maintenance of a uniform public school system” is guaranteed by the Arizona constitution. Make no mistake though, a lack of support for education will eventually affect us all. Thomas Jefferson certainly understood this when he said: “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
We won’t preserve liberty forever with only 25 percent of our electorate voting and we won’t preserve it by being short-sighted and viewing funding for education as a burden to bear rather than an investment to make. Our nation’s future demands the investment and our children deserve it.
/s/ Linda Thomas, Col, USAF, (retired)
Member, Oracle School Board