The Sedona-Oak Creek School District is imposing a $75 tax on each and every Sedona Red Rock High School student to attend school.
That’s right, a public school district will now charge high schoolers $75 to attend classes in a move the board is playfully calling “the Student Activity Administrative Fee.”
Plain and simple, this is not a “fee.” It is a reckless, disgusting and offensive tax forced down the throats of children, and as legal minors, they cannot vote against board members when they act with such myopic stupidity.
“No taxation without representation,” is a core American value SRRHS juniors learn in their Government/Economics class — it would be fortunate if their elected leaders understood this founding principle. Instead, this tax passed unanimously.
Where, pray tell, will these new funds be spent by the school board?
On another $18,500 salary bonus for Superintendent David Lykins while our teachers barely scrape by?
To reimburse Lykins’ travel expenses when he goes job hunting at other school districts?
To hire yet another second administrator in a scheme to drive off a principal two board members don’t like?
Perhaps it’s to advertise the 35 open positions caused by the exodus of teachers in May or for current board members to attempt to secretly fund unsubstantiated attacks on the voting records of other board members?
Public education is free in America. Schools are funded by property taxes so the community as whole pays for the education of our children so they receive equal access to the same institutions.
A working single parent living in an 1,100-square-foot home in Harmony Hills will pay less than a married couple living in a 5,200-square-foot million-dollar mansion in gated Foothills South. Whether childless or with many kids, the number of one’s offspring is irrelevant to the fees one pays. Property tax is based on the value of a person’s home and what he or she can reasonably pay.
Some wealthy parents can easily afford $75 per kid, but for poor, working-class and middle-class parents, this tax is a burden that takes food off their tables or makes it hard to pay their rent or mortgage.
If the district needs money to pay teachers, the board should propose a property tax increase from voters. Instead the board unfairly and unethically imposed a tax on children without any public discussion.
SOCSD administrators pushed hard for a budget override. We at the Sedona Red Rock News supported the override because it was in the best interests of our children and their teachers. The board has mismanaged those funds with Lykins’ raise, a second principal and his new support staff at West Sedona School and refusing to raise salaries to keep teachers happily employed. But now, in an effort to recoup their misspent funds, five board members want to punish our high schoolers for their own failures to lead.
The Governing Board needs to cease its finger-pointing and grandstanding and immediately, unanimously repeal this misguided and wrong tax on our children posthaste.
If the board refuses, parents should know that under Arizona Revised Statute §15-116-B, no child can be refused public education if they are unable or refuse to pay a fee.
So parents, refuse to pay this outrageous tax. The law is on your side. If the board declines to correct this mistake before school starts, print out this editorial, clip it out of our print newspaper and bring it with you when you register your teen for school.
Tell the Governing Board “NOPE”: No One Pays Ever.
Christopher Fox Graham
Contact the Sedona-Oak Creek School District Governing Board
Contact the Sedona-Oak Creek School District Superintendent