Meetings dispensing information for two areas in the north East Valley that must either join the Cave Creek Unified School District or form their own district have packed rooms in the past.
But when the Cave Creek district invited parents Thursday from the Troon and Rio Verde areas to find out more about what it offers, only six people showed up.
Superintendent Tacy Ashby said she wasn’t surprised by the low turnout. It’s hard to reach people not already in the district through its normal communication channels, she said.
But that didn’t stop her and other district representatives from sharing what they say is good news about joining the district.
One advantage they presented was the Cave Creek district’s tax philosophy, which is to keep the district tax rates as low as possible while still being able to provide the facilities and technology needed to offer the best education possible, said Kent Frison, assistant superintendent of operations and finance for the district.
Tax rates have been a central part of the discussion of whether Troon and Rio Verde should join Cave Creek or form a new district. Unorganized areas pay less in property taxes than areas that belong to a school district because they must pay only a county education tax, and no district taxes.
But a state law requires such areas to either join an existing district or form their own by November.
A group called Citizens for a Unified School District had proposed the 12-square-mile Troon area form a district without schools. But Maricopa County Superintendent Sandra Dowling decided in July the Troon and Rio Verde areas must together form their own district or join Cave Creek.
If the two areas decide to form their own district, the county superintendent’s office estimates a primary property tax of $1.85 per $1,000 of assessed value on homes. At first, there would be no secondary taxes, like bonds and overrides, because they require voter approval.
Of existing districts, Cave Creek’s tax rate is one of the lowest in Maricopa County, Frison said.
According to material from the district, Cave Creek has the 14th lowest tax rate of the 55 districts in Maricopa County for the current school year — a combined primary and secondary tax rate of $3.76.
According to figures from the county superintendent’s office, the combined tax rate would drop to $3.03 if the Troon and Rio Verde areas were added.
Ashby also cautioned that there is no guarantee the unorganized areas could join Cave Creek in the future. Not only would the new district have to vote to join Cave Creek, Cave Creek also would have to vote to accept the new district, she said.