Arizona taxpayers contributed $2.25 million in tax credit donations to Scottsdale schools in 2006, a whopping $535,000 jump from a year earlier. Scottsdale Unified School District officials attribute the increase to educational efforts and more online donations.
Arizona allows residents who donate money to extracurricular programs at public schools to receive up to a $200 tax credit for individuals and $400 for married couples.
District Superintendent John Baracy said the district has been actively trying to educate the community about how the donations work.
“Some of our own staff still does not understand it’s a method of redirecting our already paid tax dollars,” he said. “It’s not an additional donation, it’s a tax credit.”
The school with the biggest jump was Desert Mountain High School, which received $297,527 in 2006 — up $137,799 from 2005.
Desert Mountain principal Greg Milbrandt attributed the rise to a generous community and the district offi ce’s efforts.
All but $14,000 of the money was designated for specific groups or activities, such as the trip to Italy the band is planning to take in December and a cheer competition taking place in Anaheim, Calif., he said.
Another school that saw a spike in donations was Ingleside Middle School, which received $40,249.93 more in donations in 2006 than in 2005.
With $72,520 in donations, the school beat its $60,000 goal, said principal Cindy Hans.
Hans said a parent, Linda Shafer, spearheaded a campaign to try to increase donations. The school held meetings, sent e-mails and hung posters to educate the community about tax credits.
The campaign seemed to work, and the school will do it again next year, Hans said.
While most of the district’s 34 schools saw at least a few thousand dollars more in donations in 2006 than in 2005, six schools got less. Most of those schools saw fi gures between $2,000 and $4,000 lower than they had been the previous year.
Baracy said the drops didn’t concern him too much and could reflect parents making donations to high schools instead of middle schools as their children advance.
Another change was that an online donation form was available all last year. The district received $239,602 in online donations, said district spokeswoman Marijke Van Fleet.
Online donations amounted to $57,349 in 2005, but the service was only available starting Dec. 15 that year, she said.