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Sat, April 20

Tax credits pay dividends for Prescott school district

PRESCOTT – The nearly $417,000 in tax credits Prescott Unified School District (PUSD) collected in 1999 is providing a wealth of learning and recreational opportunities for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Information from the district business office shows that PUSD's five elementary schools are using the money for field trips, extended kindergarten, after-school clubs and activities.

Schools report transporting students to, among other places, museums, nature parks, farms, ranches, Prescott YMCA and the Grand Canyon.

Programs in band, science, summer school, choir, sports, art, honor society and more were recipients of tax credit cash at the two middle schools and the high school.

Through the Arizona Tuition Tax Credit Act, taxpayers gave $200 each to the district school of their choice before Jan. 1 and then deducted it, dollar-for-dollar, from their state income taxes this spring.

The act stipulates that tax credit cash pay for eligible extra-curricular activity fees. Parents can use the credit for what they already spend on such fees, including pay-for-play sports.

Taxpayers can earmark their contributions for favorite programs, too, and many do.

"If someone comes in and wants their tax credit money to go to band, that money has to be spent for band," said PUSD Director

of Business Renee Raskin. "If they have a particular student they're paying the pay-for-play fee for, then it has to go to that

sport or activity in which the student is enrolled."

Tax credit money is a windfall for the district, which has experienced declining enrollment and loss of state money over the past several years. However, state law prohibits spending it on teacher raises or

anything other than specified student activities.

"It expresses a lot of generosity from our community, but it ties our hands as to how it's spent, which makes it difficult for us," Raskin said.

Prescott High School (PHS) received the most – around $205,900 – in tax credit donations.

Of those, $51,206 was for pay-to-play fees and $19,313 goes to sports tax credit donations. The school placed another $135,446 in about 20 different accounts to benefit general athletics, art, band, band uniforms, chorus, driver's education, science, summer school, drama and other programs. (See chart on this page.)

In January, PHS Principal Tim Carter maintained that the tax credit law virtually eliminates any burden the pay to play creates for parents.

"Effectively, the State of Arizona is paying our pay to play for us," he said.

Records show Abia Judd Elementary School collected about $44,600. The school placed $19,682 in the after-school activities account to support clubs for homework, drama, computer, and more.

Also, $906 went to extended kindergarten; $2,051, kindergarten field trips; $2,130, Grade 1 field trips; $2,288, Grade 2 field trips; $3,129, Grade 3 field trips; $2,777, Grade 4 field trips; $3,985, Grades 4/5 Multi-Age Classroom field trips; $4,852, Grade 5 field trips; and, $2,814, miscellaneous programs and activities.

Lincoln Elementary received about $29,000 in tax credits. Of that, $12,409 is going for extended-day kindergarten; $10,043 to activity fees; $5,116, Grand Canyon trip; $785, Art Club; $490,

New Horizons; and, $200 for other field

trips.

Miller Valley Elementary's tax credits amounted to about $20,400. Of that, $15,001 went into the activity fees account, which pays for such things as field trips to Highlands Center for Natural History, museums, farms, ranches and more.

About $2,400 went to extended kindergarten; $1,800, Fifth Grade Camp; $300 each to science and music; and $200 each to physical education, art and other field trips.

Taylor Hicks Elementary got roughly $17,900 in 1999 tax credit donations. Of that, $14,212 is paying for art, photo, choir, clog-

ging and other clubs and activ-ities; $2,075 goes for trips to high school drama productions, I-MAX Theater in Phoenix, weekly trips

to Prescott YMCA for swimming and basketball, as well as other events; and $1,640 for the Art

Club.

Washington Traditional School was the recipient of about $10,700 in tax credits. Of that, $7,164 is supporting any extra-curricular

activities; $1,000, fine arts/music; $400, field trips; $400, noon clubs/intramurals; and $600 each, physical education, science equipment and tutoring/after-school activities.

Further, Frontier Rotary gave $2,052 to Dexter Family Resource Center for parenting education programs and workshops.

Prescott Mile High Middle School got a little more than $59,000, including $33,220 in pay-for-play sports as well as fees for band, science, summer school and more.

Other tax credit donations for PMHMS amounted to $26,175, which is going to projects in more than 20 categories. (See chart on this page.)

Taxpayers gave Granite Mountain Middle School around $26,700. Of that, $11,962 were in activity fees and pay to play. An additional $14,804 covers field trips, music, science and technology programs. (See chart on this page.)

For more information about tax credits – where the money's going or how to contribute this year – call:

• Abia Judd Elementary, 717-3263;

• Lincoln Elementary, 717-3249;

• Miller Valley Elementary, 717-3268;

• Taylor Hicks Elementary, 717-3276;

• Washington Traditional, 717-3281;

• Prescott Mile High, 717-3241;

• Granite Mountain, 717-3253; PHS, 445-2322; or,

• Dexter, 717-3272.

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