To parents and residents living within the Gilbert Public Schools geographic area:
I join four of our School Board members and four Gilbert Town Council members in endorsing the Gilbert Public Schools (GPS) YES vote for a continuation of the Budget Override.
Major funding sources for GPS include federal and state money and local property taxes. Override funds come through property taxes that are approved with a LOCAL vote for LOCAL dollars to be invested in LOCAL schools. Decisions such as the Override represent our best opportunities for government to accomplish its purpose at a local level and engage citizens in the process.
In the last five years, we struggled through one of the most challenging economic recessions in our country’s history. As a community, we thank our GPS Board and School District leaders for finding ways to cut expenses without significantly impacting the quality of our educational services. Parents have actively participated in helping improve GPS communication, transparency and budgetary processes. Many of those parents, who were some of the most vocal critics in the last Override election, have now aggressively joined the VOTE YES coalition.
A “YES” vote for the continuation of the Budget Override means that funding levels will be maintained and citizens will not see an increase in their property taxes. If the Override fails, an additional $11.6 million must be cut during the next two years from an already strained budget; an impact that would be felt by all students and teachers.
Gilbert is recognized as a community with “Premier Education.” Our education reputation has become one of our greatest assets and has opened the door for other regional and state recognitions. Gilbert is currently the fastest growing community in Arizona. We have been recognized as the second safest city in the country. We are a community known for our emphasis on faith, family and freedom. We have a positive reputation in Greater Phoenix for having the lowest taxes with the highest level of services. Our quality of life is enhanced with parks, trails, recreational opportunities and convenient local shopping amenities. We have a diverse business community with small and large companies and we are identified as a satellite, algae, cancer-fighting, cardiovascular and non-controversial stem cell research community.
Quality schools are the foundation of a thriving community. Our schools contributed to Gilbert’s ranking as the 33rd Best Place to Live in the United States. To support Gilbert’s planned growth for an additional 100,000 citizens and to continue to attract businesses to Gilbert which provide jobs and a tax base for education funding, I encourage you to join me and many others by voting YES on the continuation of the Gilbert Public School Override. I believe that a continued investment in Gilbert’s “premier education” will provide the greatest rate of return for our community.
• John Lewis was elected mayor of the Town of Gilbert in May 2009, and re-elected in 2012. He and his family have lived in Gilbert for 28 years.