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Arts group supports school funding efforts

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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The board of directors of Arizona Citizens for the Arts, a statewide organization providing advocacy support for the nonprofit arts and culture sector and arts education programs statewide, is endorsing override and bond elections being conducted this fall throughout Arizona.

"Overrides increase the dollars available for basic school services, teachers and classroom support, including arts instruction programming, which, unfortunately, is often first to be cut when classroom funding is short," said Catherine "Rusty" Foley, executive director, Arizona Citizens for the Arts.

Bond elections that provide funds for school facility improvements also have the potential for improving the ability of schools to provide arts programming, Foley said.

Bond and override elections are scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 3, in 52 school districts statewide, including 28 in the Phoenix metropolitan area and in Prescott, Tucson and Yuma as well as in areas of Coconino, Yavapai, Pinal, Pima and Santa Cruz counties.

Per-student funding in Arizona has been cut by 17.8 percent by the Arizona Legislature from 2008 to 2012, according to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report released in October 2014. As a result, Arizona currently ranks 49th in the United States in per-pupil classroom spending, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Given the political challenges of increasing state funding for education, these special school elections are the most important way that voters can directly increase funding for critical needs in their own local public schools," Foley said. "Given the scarce resources available for arts education, arts supporters should be especially concerned and should vote for these initiatives."

General overrides can boost district funding up to 15 percent, and capital overrides by 5 percent of the maintenance and operations budget. Overrides reduce class sizes; provide raises; and fund tutoring, intervention, basic instructional programs, staff development and all-day kindergarten. Capital overrides pay for school technology and school buses. Bonds are a set amount for specific projects for new classrooms, school buildings, building modifications, preventative maintenance, improvements and school security.

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Original Publication Date: October 21, 2015

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