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Fri, Oct. 15

Guest Column: Community vote needed to maintain $500,000 WUSD override

This November 2021 the voters of Williams Unified School District will be asked to approve the continuation of an override, allowing the district to continue to maintain current programs and operations which greatly benefit our students and community. This will be a by mail election.

This override is to maintain $500,000 in additional allowed revenue for our yearly budget. It is NOT a new tax. It is a continuation of what we asked for from voters a few years back and received. There will be NO increase in the school taxes that residents in the district currently pay. With the passage of this override, tax payers will continue to benefit from one of the lowest property tax rates in the region.

The money from this override can only be spent three ways:

• Maintain reduction in class sizes

• Maintain essential positions

• Minimize reductions to teacher/staff salaries and benefits

The Williams Unified School District strives to “Cultivate Excellence in Every Student.” This means that providing students with quality academic instruction along with classes in music, art, and career and technical education.

In addition, the school district provides opportunities for students to be involved in extra-curricular clubs and athletics. These are important aspects in achieving WUSD goals to foster skills that set children up for success in pre-kindergarten and beyond. The override monies support these efforts by ensuring we can maintain positions necessary to offer these aspects of a well-rounded education.

During last year’s COVID-19 pandemic, WUSD Governing Board voted to open, and keep open our schools. Williams Unified School District was one of the very few schools to offer in-person classes for the entire school year in the state. This was out of concern and awareness that this would best serve our students and parents.

There may be some confusion over the override money, ESSER money received from the government, and the School Facilities Board construction currently going on at Williams High School.

ESSER monies from the federal government were allocated to be spent to create safe and healthy learning environments for students, to help close learning gaps which may have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic and to support students’ mental health. This money can be utilized in very specific ways, which do not coincide with the money our override provides.

The current building and facilities renovations taking place at Williams High School is paid for through the Arizona School Facilities Board, which uses state money to repair, maintain and upgrade primary building projects such as repairs, renovations and upgrades and infrastructure costs. These improvements being done are paid for by the State, not the local school district.

The negative effect of any reduction in override funding will be compounded by the increasing costs of utilities, technology, services, and supplies, as well as the continued uncertainty of state and federal financial support for K-12 education. If the override is not approved again, the District would lose $500,000 in funding, which would severely impact the students.

Please vote “Yes” to approve the override on the mail-in ballots which will arrive soon. Your school is your community.

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