One of the governing board members of a newly formed “transportation district” in the north East Valley has resigned in frustration so his family can move to a school district that has schools.
J. Todd Rash was one of three people appointed to the Christopher Verde School District governing board Feb. 20, less than two months ago. The district was formed in November after voters in the Troon and Rio Verde areas chose to form a district that, instead of building schools, would pay to transport students to surrounding districts.
State law required both areas, which weren’t part of any school district at the time, to either join a district or create their own.
But after seeing potential problems with financing the new district and enrolling students in nearby schools, Rash and his wife decided to move from the Rio Verde Foothills to Scottsdale to ensure their children, now ages 2 and 4, will be within a school’s boundary.
“It is evident that the students in our area will be treated as second-class students. A treatment I don’t want to see for any students, and especially my own, once they start school,” Rash wrote in his resignation letter, dated April 13.
Rash said Tuesday his letter was “a little heated,” but he was frustrated with the new district’s situation.
State law doesn’t dictate where a new district is supposed to get start-up funds.
There is a chance the new district would be able to get a start-up loan, but it probably wouldn’t come through until July 1, Rash said. The district must have a budget put together by July 15.
“Maybe I was just being naive, but I was expecting the state, the county to make a bad situation good by stepping up and giving us funding,” he said.
There hasn’t been any luck getting funds from the Legislature or state department of education, said Alan Richardson, spokesman for Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools Sandra Dowling.
“I don’t know of any school district that is getting financial support directly from
the county,” he said.
Rash added that while nearby school districts are currently accepting students, there’s no guarantee that will be true a few years from now.
“If their schools fill up, their students in their area get first dibs,” he said.
Rash said he was also frustrated that a group led by Troon resident Pat Flynn framed the debate around tax benefits during the election buildup instead of what’s best for kids.
But Flynn said student interests were considered. “The parents get to send kids to the school they want,” he said.