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Tax credit donations help create schoolyard gardens

Courtesy photo<br>A Granville Elementary School student in Prescott Valley works in the school’s native plant garden.

Courtesy photo<br>A Granville Elementary School student in Prescott Valley works in the school’s native plant garden.

PRESCOTT - The Highlands Center for Natural History is inviting people to use their annual Arizona School Tax Credit on the center's Schoolyard Habitat Program.

Individuals can donate as much as $200, or couples filing jointly can donate as much as $400.

As long as the state government withholds at least $200 in taxes (or $400 for couples filing jointly) from your paycheck over the year, and as long as you itemize your deductions, the donation is a wash. It simply allows taxpayers to direct their money to local schools instead of the state general fund.

People who paid less than $200 in state taxes this year also can donate smaller amounts to schools. And you might be able to carry over your tax credit for as long as five years; check with your tax preparer.

The donation must be made by the last day of the year Saturday.

More information about the tax credit is available online at azdor.gov. Click on "Tax Credits" on the left-hand column, then click on "School Tax Credits for Individuals."

People can donate to the Habitat Program by calling 776-9550 or going online to highlandscenter.org.

The tax credit has allowed the Highlands Center to establish native plant gardens at Prescott, Chino Valley and Prescott Valley elementary schools over the past six years. Once established, the Highlands Center offers two years of teacher and student instruction.

"The habitat has been a wonderful experience for my students," said Melinda Fuller, science teacher at Granville Elementary School in Prescott Valley.

The Highlands Center is partnering with Lincoln Elementary School in Prescott in 2012.

"This partnership will bring science concepts to life in a way that encourages meaningful learning and exploration for our students," Lincoln Principal Teresa Bruso said.

The program received the "Be More Knowledgeable" award for outstanding educational outreach from Arizona State University and KEAT-TV in 2009.

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