Jeff McClure and Linda Thomas
Oracle Elementary School District No. 2 (OESD) is placing a 15% Maintenance & Operations (M&O) Budget Override measure on the November ballot. This is NOT a new tax, nor is it a bond. Bonds are interest accruing tax levies for capital improvements to be repaid over a 10-year period.
An M&O Override is a secondary property tax allowing local voters to approve support to fund shortfalls in state and federal education funding. They are restricted to daily operational expenses and cannot be used for capital improvement. Funding lasts seven years: 100% for five, 66% in sixth, and 33% in seventh year.
The OESD Governing Board, the new superintendent and staff have focused on utilizing improved efficiencies, analysis of sustainability, and return on investment.
Actions taken during FY 13-14 include:
30% cut in Administrative staff
10% reduction in general staffing
Art and music programs cut
Pre-K shortened to two days a week
Three-year-old preschool program dropped
Bus routes redrawn and expenses reduced
Trimming of operating expenses wherever possible
The resulting $420,000 in cuts provided the needed cash flow for FY 13-14 and augmentation of FY 14-15’s M&O budget and pre-payment of some expenses.
Despite deep cuts, OESD continued to look for opportunities to operate more efficiently while continuing to focus on the students. Pre-advance placement (HS credit) math classes were offered along with daily after school tutoring. Over 35 high achieving students made the National Junior Honor Society, and numerous unique volunteer-led programs were offered.
This year, Pre-K and Kindergarten programs moved to the Mountain Vista campus. With a capital cost of $70,000, the improved effectiveness and efficiency will save approximately $40,000 per year in M&O and allow a more robust program for these young learners. Presently OESD is in negotiations to lease a portion of the Oracle Ridge campus to a day care provider, which will provide funds for needed improvements to the Mountain Vista campus.
Truly there has been a change in culture and attitude with both Board members and staff alike. Together we are building a path toward sustainability, not just survivability, not only in our budget choices but also by creating an environment that is more attractive to families and the greater community. Our continued success relies on your support of the upcoming Override.
A YES vote FOR the M&O Override would allow the District to:
Maintain current moderate class sizes
Preserve the Physical Education program
Reinstate a Music program
Enhance the ability to attract and keep quality teachers
Ensure continued professional development of teachers
Retain Pre-Advance Placement courses in Junior High
Good schools are the start of good communities. They create a sense of pride and ownership in the community, not only for partners and stakeholders, but also for the students themselves. Good schools draw people to the area and can get community members and parents involved. This creates a nurturing environment for the kids and helps them to become productive, capable members of society.