By Steven Law
Special to the Chronicle
Every Friday the staff of Page Unified School District’s Student Support Services, along with several student volunteers, fill backpacks with food, hygiene items and sometimes clothing.
Those backpacks are then sent home with students from needy families. The items in the backpack helps sustain the student and their family through the weekend.
During extended breaks, such as Christmas and spring breaks, Student Support Services sends food boxes home with the students, and in many cases, such as when the family doesn’t have transportation, the Student Support Services delivers the food boxes themselves, which takes them to nearby communities like Kaibeto, Inscription House, Bitter Springs, and to Marble Canyon.
Most of the funding for the Friday Food Backpack Program comes from the McKinney Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvement Act, but it comes from other sources as well.
A significant portion of that funding also comes from money given to the Arizona Tax Credit.
Unlike tax deductions, which must be claimed before Dec. 31, taxpayers can apply the Arizona Tax Credit until April 15, something that has only been in affect the last two years.
The tax credit can be used whether you owe the state money or if you’re getting a refund, explains Ruth Napolitan, a tax specialist at H&R Block.
For instance, if a person owes Arizona $600 in taxes and applies $200 toward the Arizona Tax Credit, they will owe the state just $400. So, getting a refund from the state, one will get an additional $200 added to a refund, said Napolitan.
“It’s a great way to support our community by supporting Page schools,” Napolitan said. “Instead of your money going to the state’s general fund, which may get used for a project in Phoenix, the money stays in Page and directly benefits our students.”
Individuals can give up to $200 and married couples can give up to $400 on the Arizona Tax Credit.
On the form you can specify exactly what program you want the money to go to. It can even be split up and spent among various programs, such as $100 to the football program and $100 dollars to the graphic arts program.
Kyran Keisling, head coach of the high school wrestling team, is a big proponent of the Arizona Tax Credit.
The high school wrestling program has benefitted from it a lot the last several years, using money to offset costs that his wrestlers spend on uniforms, summer camp and year-end awards.
“I try to do a big tax credit drive every year,” Keisling said. “If you do it now, you get that money right back in just a few weeks. If you have a kid in school and you’re not giving to the Arizona Tax Credit, it’s a shame. It’s so easy to do and has such a big impact on our programs.”
Keisling remembers the days before the Arizona Tax Credit when money for the wrestling program came from selling Navajo Tacos.
“This is way better,” he said. “Even when we had a really good Navajo Taco fundraiser we only raised about $500.”
The Arizona Tax Credit forms can be picked up at the high school or at H&R Block.