By Cort Monroe, Ed.D., CCUSD Superintendent
Starting this past January, as the new superintendent in the Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD), this question has been posed to me: Why Does “ADDL EDUC AID – CAVE CREEK” show on my tax bill and where does the money go? I would like to answer that question here.
In 1980, the Arizona legislature refined the school finance system to provide equal dollars per weighted pupil for school district operations through a balancing of the local qualifying property tax rate and state/county equalization assistance so that districts experience similar “effort” in raising educational dollars for their students irrespective of property valuations within their boundaries. The state of Arizona still utilizes this formula today. Therefore, as property value increases, state equalization decreases and vice versa. Everyone in Arizona has to pay fifty percent of the qualifying tax rate, thus the “equalization” concept.
In the case of CCUSD, the total primary assessed value of the district is $2.3 billion, providing $448,000 of assessed value per student. In comparison, a neighboring district has approximately $89,529 per student. They receive $103,202,000 in state equalization and CCUSD, one of a handful of districts in Maricopa County, is not eligible for state equalization assistance because of its property wealth, and receives no state equalization.
Public schools in Arizona are governed by the Arizona constitution and Title 15 of the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS). ARS §15.992.B. states “At the same time of levying taxes as provided in subsection A of this section, the county board of supervisors shall annually levy an additional tax in each school district that is not eligible for equalization assistance as provided in section 15-971.”
Because of this statute and the assessed value in Cave Creek, the County Assessor collects approximately $4.1 million annually from taxpayers on the line titled “ADDL EDUC AID – CAVE CREEK” which is transmitted to the state treasurer for deposit in the state general fund to aid in school financial assistance. CCUSD does not receive any of this funding.
As we navigate the future with an eye on capturing more student enrollment into our schools and striving for long-term and sustainable funding sources into the Cave Creek Unified School District, it is imperative for residents to know that the Additional Educational Aid does not come to CCUSD schools but to other schools in Arizona. Working together and educating one another can help us move forward in helping to sustain and grow the level of academic excellence our children so deserve in such a wonderful community. Facts like these can help individuals and voters make informed decisions moving forward.