No schools, no free ride
Arizona Republic
Jul. 1, 2006

People who live northeast of Pima and Pinnacle Peak roads have a sweet deal.

They live in million-dollar homes in an area that escaped being included in any school district. They get to send their children to neighboring schools while paying one-fourth to half as much as the people who live in those districts.

Who'd want to give up a deal like that? Certainly not the residents of Troon and other northeast Scottsdale subdivisions. They've turned down three opportunities to be absorbed into a school district.

Now, they've filed a petition signed by 665 residents asking to create a 12-square-mile school district. They don't plan to build a school, that would cost money. Instead, they'll tax themselves just enough to cover tuition and transportation costs to send their children to Scottsdale, Paradise Valley or Cave Creek schools.

Give them credit for ingenuity. One way to remain wealthy is to let other people pay your bills.

Sure, residents of the proposed Troon Unified School District would be paying tuition and the cost of transportation. But that's not the full cost of providing an education.

The tax rate is higher in Cave Creek, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley because property owners pay for school buildings. For computers. For all the bricks and mortar and real estate that bonds support.

The people in the proposed Troon Unified School District would not. They want to let other people continue to build schools for their children to attend.

What they are proposing is the equivalent of moving into your neighbor's house and paying your share of groceries, utilities, cable and gasoline - but letting your neighbor continue to pay the mortgage.

No homeowner would agree to that. The Troon proponents shouldn't be surprised that their neighbors aren't too keen on this idea.

In most other states, this situation wouldn't exist. School districts have long since covered every square inch of property. Arizona is unique. That's why Sen. Carolyn Allen pushed a bill that requires any unorganized area with 150 students to join a school district or create its own by 2007. She didn't anticipate anyone suggesting a school district without schools.

There will be an election in November. The ballot will be straightforward.
Northeast Scottsdale residents will be asked if they want to join a specific neighboring district or if they want to create their own district. That's the legal language.

But in the real world, they'll be choosing between joining their neighbors in shouldering the full cost of educating tomorrow's leaders, or freeloading.

Human nature being what it is, we expect the latter choice to win. And human nature being what it is, Troon Unified "School District" residents shouldn't be surprised by a cold shoulder from people carrying a much larger share of the tax burden to educate Troon's children.