Mesa West Rotarians enjoyed an opportunity to socialize at their 4th Thursday evening meeting prior to President Jim Schmidt opening the meeting by asking Brian Goetzenberger to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.  
 
Guests
Melodie Jackson introduced her unpaid Uber driver (and husband) Randy.  Wendell Jones introduced Morgan and Suzanne Davis.  Suzanne was the first Woman President of Mesa Baseline Rotary Club.
 
President Jim provided some Rotary trivia by reminding Rotarians that women were officially allowed to join Rotary following the 1987 Council on Legislation.  The subject had been considered in 1971, 1974, and 1977, and didn't make it until a California club inducted three women members, and Rotary International pulled their charter.  A legal battle ensued, and the California club prevailed resulting in the formal action taken in the 1987 RI action to formally open membership in Rotary to women.  The late PDG Al Mabry attended the historic Council on Legislation following the lawsuit.
 
Drawing
Dan Coons asked Suzanne to draw the lucky ticket in the weekly drawing.  Warren Williamson won the weekly drawing but drew the ace of hearts allowing the accumulating winnings to continue to grow until someone draws the ace of clubs at a future meeting.  
 
Happy Bucks
Lucinda General shared some additional information about women in Rotary.  Suzanne Davis and Susan Carland were both strong Presidents of Mesa Baseline and the Mesa Club the year that Lucinda was District Governor in 2005-06.  That year, there were three women District Governors in Arizona - Anne Fisher in 5500, Wilma Basnett-Emerson in 5490 and Lucinda General in 5510.  The first woman to serve as an Arizona District Governor was Norma Taylor Roderique in District 5510, the same year Pam Cohen was the first female President of Mesa West in 1997-98.  
 
In an attempt to find something more humorous than accounting jokes, President Jim explained the difference between a good lawyer and a bad one.  He explained that a bad lawyer's cases last several years, and a good lawyer's cases last a lot longer.  Pam Cohen thanked club members for an excellent turnout of members attending the tour on September 19 at the Child Crisis Center and wanted all to know that it was a rare privilege for a tour group to get to hear from Torrie Taj as she is a very busy woman.
 
Announcement
Pam Cohen was very excited to announce that Mesa West is moving toward having a legacy event or project.  Her sister-in-law is in a San Jose Rotary Club which hosts an annual art show in their community which have given a visible identity to their club.  We all know we are the best Rotary Club in Mesa, and we have a legacy project with our Gift Hearing international service project, but we are not yet known in Mesa for any one thing that sets us apart in our own community.  On Thursday, October 10, Pam will manage a facilitated discussion.  Pam asked Rotarians to come to that meeting prepared with ideas for events and/or projects.  The goal will be to narrow down the ideas to the top 3-5. Through the facilitated discussion, statements will be developed about those ideas that members believe will have the greatest impact on the community and for which the membership clearly has the heart and passion to support.  At our next evening meeting, October 24, each of the ideas will have an idea originator paired with a rookie to serve as presenting teams for each of the ideas, explaining how Mesa West could be involved.  At that meeting, those in attendance will do "speed dating" to hear all of the presentations.  Bert Millett has agreed to facilitate voting and create an analysis and community impact study.
 
Program
Before introducing the program, Wendell Jones reminded members that Ray Smith is older than Wendell.  Ray turned seventy-three in August and Wendell didn't turn seventy-three until September 25.  Since the two digits in their age are seven and three - which added together total ten, Wendell donated $10.
 
Wendell went on to introduce wonderful friends, a father/daughter team, who he invited to provide facts about the upcoming override election to support the Mesa Schools.  W. Dea Montague, a 1972 graduate of the ASU law school, practiced in the East Valley for 40 years until retirement.  He and his wife, Marcia, of 42 years are the parents of 9 children, 48 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren all of whom live in Mesa.  He has been an active Boy Scout and Leader for more than sixty years.  Dea is on the Steering Committee of the Mesa Grande Community Alliance and works to promote strong neighborhoods founded upon strong schools, strong churches, committed neighbors, successful businesses and balanced development.  He was the founding chairman and still a member of the Westwood High School Parent's Group.  He was present at the meeting as Co-Chair of the Mesa Alliance for Educational Excellence PAC Campaign for the coming Election to approve the School Budget Increase.
 
Dea's daughter, Jenny Richardson, began her Mesa School Governing Board service in January 2015.  She and her husband, Randy, grew up in Mesa Public Schools, both graduating from Westwood High School.  They are the parents of six children, all of whom are graduates from or current students in the district.  Jenny received her degree in elementary education from BYU and taught for several years before "retiring" to stay home with her children.  
 
When presenting at school meetings, they are legally mandated to present facts in a manner that does not show any bias.  They have a little more liberty when presenting to external groups such as Rotary.
 
Since 1975 the state budget has not been enough to fund education without raising taxes, with legislatures have consistently chosen not to do.  This has resulted in school districts having to pass override elections to create the additional funds necessary to adequately fund education.  In 1995 Mesa passed their first override.  Each override has to go to the electorate to be renewed every five years.  Voters are often confused when bond elections and override elections are on the same ballot or in recent memory.  Bond elections provide funds for capital expenses.  Override elections provide funds to support the operating budget which includes salaries.  
 
ThIs override is the first time they have asked the voters to approve a higher override than the one that will expire this year.  The board went to the voters a year early last year hoping to avoid the cost of a special election this year.  On the same ballot last year was a school bond.  Voters did approve the bond but not the override.
 
If the override does not pass, the reduction in funding will be phased in over a period of time, but the school board will be faced with some very difficult decisions.  Safety and Security are part of the operating budget.  Mesa schools achieve good results with a limited budget.  The proposition 206 which passed increasing minimum wage in the state, has impacted the school system's ability to operate going forward with just a renewal of the 10% override currently in place.  Prior to Prop 206, 3% of district employees were within $1 of minimum wage.  After Prop 206, 50% of employees were within $1 of minimum wage.  The district is asking for a 15% override.  Neighboring districts are already there, except for Gilbert, and they are also asking voters for a15% override.  
 
A lack of adequate funding for education has economic impacts on a community in many ways.  If a district cannot attract and retain quality staff, the community suffers.  If a business is thinking of relocating to a community, education funding is a part of their decision - they want to be assured of a continuing source of quality employees, and want their own children to have access to quality education.
 
Informative handouts were available for members attending the meeting.  For more information, go to www.YesforMesaSchools.org.  
 
The bond election is a mail-only election.  Ballots will go out October 9 and must be returned by Halloween.  Jenny said, It will be scary if you don't get your yes vote in the mail on time."