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Tue, Nov. 12

Tax credit donations; Prescott school district coffers get big boost

PRESCOTT – Prescott Unified School District (PUSD) collected nearly half a million dollars' worth of tax credit donations for extracurricular activities during 2000, 14.7 percent more than during the previous year.

According to Kathy Patzer, auxiliary bookkeeper, donations to the district's eight schools amounted to $478,421. Through the Arizona Tuition Tax Credit Act, taxpayers gave as much as $200 each to the district school of their choice before Jan. 1 and may deduct it, dollar-for-dollar, from their state income taxes.

Washington Traditional School posted the largest gain with $29,164, a whopping 171 percent over 1999. Miller Valley Elementary received $31,626, an increase of 55 percent, while Taylor Hicks Elementary got $25,679, or 43.2 percent more than in 1999.

Lincoln Elementary received $35,862, an increase of 23.5 percent. Prescott High School took in $226,856, a gain of 10.1 percent, and Abia Judd Elementary got $48,788, up 9.4 percent.

Donations to the district's two middle schools declined. Donors gave Prescott Mile High Middle School $51,912, 12.6 percent less than the year before, and $25,931, or 3.1 percent, less to Granite Mountain.

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

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.

Tax credit money is a windfall for the district, which experienced declining enrollment and loss of state money for several years. However, state law prohibits spending it on teacher raises or anything other than specified student activities.

"I want to thank the public for this outstanding contribution to our schools," said Patzer. "I really feel that sports, the arts and music, along with other extracurricular activities, have benefited immensely."

Of all the district schools, Prescott High School's $226,856 topped all others in tax credit donations. Dollar amounts for pay to play – $98 per student per sport – amounted to $46,921; sports tax credit donations, $20,493, and donations to general accounts including art, band, summer school and athletics came to $159,442.

Abia Judd Elementary's total of $48,788 includes $600 for extended kindergarten, $24,064 for field trips and $24,124 for after-school activities.

In whole dollars, Lincoln Elementary's $35,862 includes $22,004 for activity fees, $11,241 for extended day kindergarten, $432 for a Grand Canyon trip, $725 for the art club, and $1,460 for the New Horizons program.

Miller Valley Elementary's total of $31,626 includes $28,028 for activity fees, $750 to the Highlands Center for Natural History, and $2,848 for extended kindergarten.

Taylor Hicks Elementary's donations are, $21,780 for general after-school activities, $1,000 for field trips, $389 for a full-day kindergarten, $1,420 for Art Club and $1,090 for Music Club, for a total of $25,679.

Washington Traditional's total of $29,164 includes $26,185 for summer school; Library Club and Pinochle Club; field trips to Phoenix for museum visits, plays and other cultural events; as well as $2,979 for an all-day kindergarten program.

Sports and summer school fees at Mile High Middle School amounted to $24,320. Donations were $27,592 and include $6,156 in the Principal's Discretion Account; $2,200, Silver Club; $9,761, Band; and $1,800, to science activities.

The various accounts that tax credits cover at Granite Mountain include $6,533 for music: $4,308 for field trips; $1,708, science; football and volleyball, $1,980 each; boys basketball, $2,160; and boys and girls track, $2,226. That school's total came to $25,931.

State law regarding tax credit donations for extracurricular activities changed this year. Effective Jan. 1, 2001, the maximum amount married people filing a joint income tax return may give to a public school increased from a maximum of $200 to $250 per year. Such donations to private schools also increased, from $500 to $625.

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