(October 13, 2013) – As Sedona stands poised to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to the Budget Override for the Sedona Oak Creek Unified School District, students and parents wait with bated anticipation for the community to support them in their quest for a better education for their children and better teachers.
It’s no secret Arizona has some of the lowest-paid teaching jobs in the nation and the dismal drop out and achievement rates across the state reflect this.
Last election the budget override that would have allowed additional funding for Sedona teachers was voted down by but a few votes, stripping the school district of badly needed funds and seriously affecting education.
This year parents, educators and supporters have launched a massive campaign to educate the voting public as to the importance of properly funding education; as have others opposed to the budget override that have organized to stop them.
Arguments have been laid out from both sides of the table and people are still making up their minds on whether to vote to provide more educational funding or cut it off.
There are misconceptions, valid arguments and a lot of angst permeating Sedona but one fact remains above all of them.
There is no such thing as too much money for the education of our children and ensuring our future and the future of coming generations!
It’s a simple formula, really.
The more money we spend on teachers, the better teachers Sedona will get.
The better teachers we hire, the better education the children of Sedona will have.
The better educated they are, the better chance they have of moving on into society and bringing about positive change and progressive growth for our nation and the world.
For those of us that are proud of our community, those of us that love Sedona, it is only natural for us to want what is best for it.
Yes. We have the best attractions, the best restaurants, the best red rock views, the best hiking and the best entertainment in Arizona.
We live in a magical, mystical land where art and the environment are one.
We are a varied town of business people, artists, musicians, workers, writers and healers.
We live in one of the best and most beautiful cities in the world.
Isn’t it natural to want the best educational system for our city that money can buy?
In every one of our lives there was a teacher or teacher that inspired us to be the best we can in what we do. Don’t we want highly motivated and well-paid teachers living and educating our children in our community?
We deserve the best teachers because they will inspire our youth and make the Sedona educational system the best anywhere.
Young professionals will flock here to ensure the best education for their children.
How can we be serious about being the best and wanting the same for the students of Sedona and then turn our backs on them and say “NO” to their dreams and aspirations?
Sedona is above that. Sedona deserves the best of everything. Say yes to Sedona. Say yes to our students. Say yes to our teachers. Say yes to the future.
School districts across America have become like bloated codfish. Government simply has too much of our tax-payer dollars to spend. Entitlements are sucking the country dry. Billions are wasted on educational programs for the disadvantaged. People don’t work and live off of food stamps and welfare. Kids whose parents are not American citizens are taking up space in our schools. Now people too poor to pay their own medical insurance will have access to the same doctors we who worked so hard to pay for, to go to as well. If governments and schools were run like businesses we would not be in a fiscal mess. We need to cut all those programs for the poor, change our approach to social security and pay schools only by their performance. Make school districts demonstrate they are doing a good job first and then give them more money. How good a job is the Sedona school district doing as far as achievement rates or honors are concerned? That’s what me and voters like me want to know.
Anyone who opposes this override is not in possession of all the facts. Anyone who can say that school districts across America have become like bloated codfish is WILDLY out of touch with reality. When were you last in a classroom? When were you last faced with pages of supply requests for your child’s classroom? Pencils? Did your parents need to buy pencils for your school when you were a child? When were you last at a PTSA meeting? Do you know that parents sell popsicles to raise money for vital classroom equipment? Do you KNOW what teachers in this state are paid? When you were in school, I’ll bet your school had not only a principal AND a vice principal, but a full time music, art and PE teacher as well. We have wonderful principals, no vice principals, and part time specials teachers who are currently only funded because of community generosity. If this override does not pass, we will very likely lose one of our schools. You suggest paying schools by their performance. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree. Check out our SOCUSD. Its amazing on a shoestring. A rated, I might add. They deserve a raise.
Clearly your selfishness is only overcome by your ignorance. Given all your criticism of our “bloated government”, have you even gone down to the school district office and reviewed the books? No? Have you even bothered to look up our schools performance that you claim is so inefficient? No? So, it appears all you have done is to spout a “gut reaction” on a subject you know nothing about revealing how narrow minded you are. OK, so here are some of the facts you claim to want to know. U of A (that is the University of Arizona in case you never looked that up either) ranked the freshmen from Sedona Red Rock High School as number 1 in the state of Arizona for GPA (that means grade point average) in their freshmen year. So of the many ways to judge a high schools’ academic achievements, clearly preparing its graduates for college would be very high on the list. Our school, was number 1. Year over year, we also have nearly the highest percentage of graduates who go on to college in the state. So, we send a very high percentage of our kids to college, and they perform among the best of all freshmen.
Here are some other facts for you. The state of Arizona ranks consistently at or near the bottom (lets say within the bottom 2 or 3) of all states in our country in the amount we fund our kids education as measured by dollars spent per student per year. When I was PTSA president many years ago, we spent roughly $2500 per year per student. The average for the country was roughly $4500. The highest districts were in the neighborhood of $8500 per student per year. So, to turn your phrase, “cry me a river” about how much you are paying for our kids education and quit attacking our school district with baseless, unsupported accusations.
I apologize. And thank you for articulating what I believe are facts, facts until this point I have been unaware off. My question then is why don’t we read about these accomplishments in the Red Rock News. Plenty of sports coverage but so little on the academic side. These accomplishments make sense to me. An investment is an investment and if I am going to make one I want it to be on a winner. Again, I’m a bit miffed at the Democrats holding the country hostage and keeping the government closed. But if it’s true Sedona students are doing as well as they are with the little they have, then I would vote yes to the budget override.
Thank you for being open minded, and your gracious response.
We have an ad coming out Friday that lists some of the accomplishments our school district has achieved. We moved here 10 years ago because of Sedona’s great schools, and they are even better now. Please come and visit a school and you will see for yourself. We are very proud of what our graduates have achieved. Call the district office and we will arrange for a tour – (928) 204-6800
Obviously, there is plenty of waste in out Govrrnment. However, the “waste” is not with our schools and with the education of our kids. they are the future of America.
You ask about the achievment of our Sedona schools. The Sedona Red Rock High School is the only “A” rated high school school in Yavapai County. Our high school is the top performing high school in No. Arizona. 97% of our high school kids graduate, and 84% of our high school kids go to college. WOW! The money from the Override enable this. If the Sedona School Distrit had to perform with only the basic money provided by the Fed and the State, we would drop down to “average”. Many of our AP programs would be cut, along with many of the other programs that enable our Sedona kids to exccell.
Please join me and so many of our other caring Sedona residents to support and vote “yes” on the Override. My wife and I have no children, but we feel strongly about supporting our Sedona Schools and helping to provide the best education for our Sedona Kids.
Respectfully, Lew Hoyt
Like most government programs, there are problems with education in our country that need to be addressed. Before people start criticizing the Sedona Oak-Creek Unified School District and the override, they need to do their research, which is more than just pulling numbers off the intent and jumping to conclusions. Unlike shopping on the internet for the cheapest price for the cheapest product, education deals with people and a quality education is measured in various ways. How does one want to measure a quality education? By test scores, by the number of graduates going to college, by the number of graduates getting jobs, by the student attendance rate, by the number of students who graduate, or by the number of students who end up in jail?
Of all the override critics, I know of none who actually visited our school campuses, spoke with the school administrators or councilors, reviewed school budgets, attended school board budget workshops, or asked to review the budgets with the district finance director or superintendent. Their criticism of the override makes it apparent of their lack of school budget finance knowledge.
Every program has room for improvement, but if one took the time to see the great achievements of our school district, no matter how one wants to judge a quality education, they would be impressed. The override is not additional funding our school district is requesting, it is the restoration of the funding that our district has utilized for the past 17 years to provide an outstanding education for our youth. I along with many professionals moved to Sedona because of its fine education. Our children have nearly completed their Sedona education and will be moving on to college, but we must maintain our high education standards in order to attract top professionals to our community and keep the ones we have.
A vote for the Sedona-Oak Creek School District is a vote for the City of Sedona. The relationship between our school district and our city is symbiotic. Specifically, it is a relationship that mutually benefits the two municipal entities in Sedona. We all recognize that a good school system typifies a good city. Conversely, a poor school system reflects a city with problems. Sedona has a school system that exemplifies its citizenry and the goals that they had for themselves as well as their children and grandchildren.
Under the leadership of Superintendent of Schools, Dave Lykins, the Sedona-Oak Creek School District has kept pace with the new and raised status of the state, national and global educational needs. He and his administrative team have creatively and successfully implemented the state’s edict for new and higher standards with limited state funding. This kind of educational leadership by the school district lifts the status of Sedona as a viable and proactive community as well as earning a very high rating for the school district from the Arizona Department of Education.
However at this time, the district and the city will need your vote to support the override. The override will assist the district’s administrators and staff to maintain and expand upon the excellent reputation of the school district and reflect positively upon the city of Sedona. Without the funds from the override, programs and staffing may need to be eliminated resulting with lowered state rating of student outcomes for the Sedona School District. Without the present and future scholars to represent the high educational standards, on-going technological knowledge, performance-based education, and firm principles of proactive and ethical learning that this school district can offer, the character of Sedona will slowly and surely fade away .
Vote for the override for the Sedona-Oak Creek School District and for the City of Sedona.
I am very hard nosed about tax money and how it is spent. I think a good deal of our tax dollars are wasted, and oppose most tax increase measures with good reason.
However, I support the Budget Override because this is money well spent. The education budget does not include money to support AP classes, band, sports, art and other “enhancement” classes. These are all classes you took in school but some people petulantly want to deny them to the current Red Rock students. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Please explain how reducing the number and quality of classes in science and math is going to improve the Sedona student’s test scores. That’s not even common sense.
Those of you who are upset with the solar panels or sports field, take it out on the right people. Hint – it’s not the students.
Those of you who are upset with the Mayor, take it out on the Mayor. I know Rob Adams and he can certainly stand up for himself. And if you don’t like the job he is doing, run for Mayor next time and show us how capable you are.
Finally there is no “well oiled machine” suppressing dissent and personally attacking you or your way of life. If there were, they would have found me long before now. Stop with the paranoia already.
IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION IN SEDONA
Bert, just wanted to echo your statements. Well said. Public service is open to all. If you want to make meaningful changes to spending then run for public office or support those candidates who believe in the things you believe in. The students did not create any of these public spending problems and they do not deserve to have the quality of their education suffer because voters are upset over government spending. Take out your anger and frustration on the right targets. And their are plenty of them, but the students and education should not be on that list.
Burt, just wanted to echo your statements. Well said. Public service is open to all. If you want to make meaningful changes to spending then run for public office or support those candidates who believe in the things you believe in. The students did not create any of these public spending problems and they do not deserve to have the quality of their education suffer because voters are upset over government spending. Take out your anger and frustration on the right targets. And their are plenty of them, but the students and education should not be on that list.
Oh cry me a river about how kids have to sell pencils on corners and hold car washes to pay for supplies.
I still haven’t heard a word about Sedona school’s achievements in comparison to other school districts.
Sounds like even if you “heard” the comparison you wouldn’t listen so let me just say that SRRHS has an A rating and Camp Verde has a C. There’s your comparison. Look it up online for details.
Unfortunately the “ratings of “A” and “C are not accurate. Learn how the rating system really works and where the ratings actually come from before making a statement like that. And just as important, look at the ratings of the other schools in our district as compared to Cam Verde. Careful what you listen to when you are volunteering more of your tax dollars. You are already paying more this year than last, excluding any override. A 10 point spread between Camp Verde High School and RRHS is almost not worth talking about – especially since Camp Verde has no Override. Unless you are trying to tug on the heart strings of others wallet.
Where did you look?
It is on our website Mr. Richardson, which includes the link to the state statistics for all the schools in Arizona. You can’t play with numbers that are put together by the state.
As a business owner, property owner and most importantly- parent of a child in the Sedona Oak Creek School District- my vote is Yes. I have been invested in this community before I was married, before we had a child, and before I owned a business.
My family and I take pride in calling Sedona our home, giving back in our community, being involved in what makes this a fantastic place to live, and knowing that hard work and dedication makes it all happen.
We are striving to raise our son to be a useful and productive member of society, one that can make a difference and create change- and all we ask is that our School District is provided with the proper funding to help us give him everything he needs to go hand in hand with what we do.
Our vote is Yes- and we appreciate Mr. Acosta’s support as well as everyone else in the community who has taken the time and will take the time to vote Yes for the future of education in Sedona. Thank you!
Agree most closely with Mr. Ensley’s remarks. The budget override merely re-funds programs that have been funded for years, and which are needed in order to provide an adequate education for Sedona students. It is penny-wise, pound foolish to effectively de-fund all but the most “basic” subject offerings, which are by today’s standards, inadequate…. And that is what will happen if the over ride does not pass this time.
That said, even as a staunch supporter of the over-ride, I find statements like,”The more money we spend on teachers, the better teachers Sedona will get.” and “Isn’t it natural to want the best educational system for our city that money can buy?”, simplistic, and off putting. Tax payers do not have an endless supply of money to pour into anything, including schools; and, there is no direct correlation between spending money and the quality of teachers hired….although I do believe teachers are underpaid in AZ.
However, there is a direct correlation between the quality of a community’s schools and the ability of that area to attract, and keep, a better educated, younger, productive, tax base. Absent the money provided by the over ride, many course offerings and services will be cut. That is a fact. Restoration of the over ride funding will prevent our school system from significantly degrading, and help to continue to make our community a more desirable place to live….. for working, tax paying residents. The alternative is a dummy-ing down of education, and a steady drift toward a community made up of mostly retirees…of which I am soon to become a member : ).
If that happens, where do you think the revenue to ‘run the town’ will have to come from? Clearly, from increased tax burden on those who are in the ‘No’ camp…..like I said, penny-wise, pound foolish….
So, please vote Yes to restore funding to our schools to an acceptable level.
The Democrats holding our country hostage? You have got to be kidding!!! The radical far right wing Tea Party House members were doing the hostage holding!
Vote “YES” on the Override. Our children are our hope for the future.
And we are spending more money per child that any other country, and the results keep getting worse.
Tommy, thank you for your well-written article. It is a sad fact that the school district must depend on overrides to function. Whether or not it should be that way is a moot point – it’s reality. The state legislature cut funding to schools 22% between 2008 and 2012. Our district schools are trying to teach our children on 3/4 of the money we had 5 years ago. Every year I voluntarily spend several hundred dollars out of my own pocket – unreimbursed! – to make sure my students have materials to do hands-on Chemistry and Physics experiments.
American industry has some of the highest-level technology in the world. Today’s university students use this same technology. Yet students in our schools use the same level of technology I used when I was a student in high school – 40 years ago – primarily due to lack of funding to obtain more modern equipment.
Regarding teacher salaries, let me put things in perspective:
I have a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in Engineering and twelve years of aerospace engineering experience. Had I continued my engineering career, today I would be earning between $130,000 and $150,000 a year to build communications and weather satellites. Instead, I returned to college, earned a second Master’s Degree (in Education) and am in my twentieth year of teaching Chemistry, Physics and Math. In that time I have taught approximately 3000 students. I am entrusted with shaping the next generation of Americans – in my view, the most important job in the world. In Arizona, a person with my experience and education who does this crucial job – helping children to become self-sufficient human beings and responsible citizens of the twenty-first century – is paid less than $45,000 a year.
Tommy, your quote: “There is no such thing as too much money for the education of our children and ensuring our future and the future of coming generations!”
Really? We spend more money than any other country on the planet, and keep getting less and less for those dollars. After 50 years of spending “more money”, when do results start to matter?
http://www.usaladyliberty.org/AZ_College_Stats.html (bottom of the web page)
Businesses are the customers, our kids are the products. You turn out a mediocre product and business goes elsewhere. This is a global economy and global kids if you will compete for positions at those businesses. Maybe you do not think our kids are a product, it is only their future and long term personal and financial success at stake.
Instead we have programs that are self fulfilling, (Solar fields, professional football field, Performing Arts Center – all LOSERS) maybe we should try a little reform. We listen to Mr. Richardson bragging about graduating 84% of the kids onto college – then we see only 30-40% graduating from college after four years. I do not know where you went to school, but where I went to school, that was way below a failing grade.
http://www.usaladyliberty.org/AZ_College_Stats.html You can also check out any college in the country.
If you or anyone out there is really interested in understanding the sad state of an education system that spends more money per child than any other country on the planet, please read the article submitted by Mr. Normand, which is quite lengthy, but has facts that are more than troubling which are documented for further research. It is easy to write a blog, make comments, and stir up emotion. And as we do that, our education system continues to worsen.
Mr. Normand’s comments can be found here:
Arizona spends pitifully on education and has one of the lowest academic achievement rates in the country.
Could the correlation be between money and academic performance be any more obvious?
Ask yourself why people who send their kids to private schools are willing to spend the extra bucks.
Because the kids will get a better education. Period! Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for public education.
I know it’s a simple way to look at it but it’s true. The more money our district has to hire teachers, the better education students in Sedona will get.
As the editor of the Sedona Times and a journalist for Sedona/biz I covered a lot of education issues and got to know the educational leadership of our community personally. I can tell you with no hesitation they are the best teachers and administrators I have ever had the pleasure to cover. They care. They work hard. They go above and beyond the call of duty for our students. Kudos to Zach Richardson and his people for fighting for the future of students of Sedona.
Sorry Tommy, your argument simply does not hold water.
Apology accepted Mike. (:-> Arguments are not buckets.
But I have to agree with Ms. Schor’s “The Conservative”s statement that people expect a champagne eduction on a beer budget.
Mike, my frustration with comments like yours is they offer no solution. You say that money is not the answer, ok what is? If you are so concerned about the education of our children then get involved beyond leading some sort of tax payer revolt. Increasingly more and more people are angry about government spending and I understand that frustration and agree with most of it. In this case all the decisions and all the money come at the local level. My question to you and those that think like you is this..”How much is enough, or how much is to much?
If you can answer that, run for the school board and start reforming the local educational landscape. If what you say is true then we can have our cake and eat it too and I, and no doubt many others, would tip our caps to you.
Wow. You are an angry man and are taking it out on innocent people. Keep your facts straight and your personal bashing agenda out of it and you may see and think more clearly.
First of all, I am furious that you are trying to pass off your own website as a valid source of unbiased statistical information about colleges. I went to the website, clicked on “About Us”, and this is what I found (quoted verbatim):
“This site is an informational site that I designed to promote efficient education in the Sedona SD9 School District.
We all just received our property tax bills, from either Coconino or Yavapai county. Coconino had an average of a 30% INCREASE in the overall bill and Yavapai 25%. I don’t think anyone’s property value went up by that much. Money grab by all city, state and federal agencies is running rampant. We need to start at local levels and let the bureaucracy know that they must be as efficient and frugal as the American People are having to be in an economy that cannot get off dead center.”
If one of my students tried to cite that website as an information source, we would have a very LONG discussion about what constitutes valid, unbiased information and research.
There is no name listed on the website, but since you are the only person I have ever seen reference it, I must conclude that it is yours. I am sorry that you feel it necessary to make an example of “starting at the local level” by opposing local funding for local schools that are as “efficient and frugal” as humanly possible. They have to be, considering the lack of funding coming from the state.
I find it interesting that you are complaining about a $60 per year tax increase, given that you have described yourself (complete with picture) on a public website as:
Past CEO of my private $100M company, current board and audit member of $4B company
Now to discuss the content of your comment:
“This is a global economy and global kids if you will compete for positions at those businesses.” As near as I can tell (having read the sentence six times simply to decipher your meaning) you are saying that our kids will compete for positions in the global economy. You are correct. We would like them to be on at least an equal footing with kids who come from US private schools or public schools in other countries.
I invite you to look at the content of my earlier comment (posted directly above yours) regarding recent reductions in state funding levels, obsolete lab technology, classroom materials bought with money from my own pocket, and my own salary.
“…maybe we should try a little reform.” Reform what, exactly? What is your definition of “reform?” Do you have any concrete suggestions, or simply rhetoric?
“…graduating 84% of the kids onto college – then we see only 30-40% graduating from college after four years.” Are you saying that only 30-40% of students going to college from SRRHS then graduate from college in four years? Or 30-40% of freshman in Arizona? Or maybe in the U.S.? You need to be specific.
Do you know that SRRHS alumni have gone on to graduate (including some Phi Beta Kappa graduates) from some of the top-rated schools in the country, including Dartmouth, Stanford, Duke, UC Berkeley, the Claremont Colleges, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, New York University School of Law, the United States Naval Academy, and the United States Air Force Academy?
[By the way, graduating in four years is no longer the norm in America. Because of budget cutbacks at universities, fewer sections of required courses are offered, and many if not most students can’t finish in 4 years because they can’t get into the classes they need.]
You say “It is easy to write a blog, make comments, and stir up emotion.” Again, you are correct. And, again, I am sorry that you feel the need to do that rather than work with the schools to implement real solutions.
Faulty premise to tie $$$ to quality of education
Of all these people who oppose the Override – not one has attended a school board meeting, budget workshop, visited with the district Director of Finance or toured our schools to get their facts correct. They take tidbits of information out of context and spin them to fit their premise and run up the hype.
Mike – you even got my quote wrong – I say we have a 95% graduation rate and 84% of our students go on to college. Graduation rates at colleges vary and can be verified on the internet. I did not see the graduation numbers or range you are quoting, and what does that have to do with the Override anyway????
Mike – your statement above ” Businesses are the customers, our kids are the products.” is extremely confusing?
Then you go on to clarify your statement by saying ” This is a global economy and global kids if you will compete for positions at those businesses. Maybe you do not think our kids are a product, it is only their future and long term personal and financial success at stake.”
And I thought the Override Ballot wording was confusing – WOW –
Mike – please return my thumb drive that you took at the OLLI Presentation – my address is P.O. Box 856 – Sedona – 86339.
Zach, before you post a thumb drive return request, you should go to your PO Box. It was returned once to me as the package was over ¾” think and required extras postage. The fact that I had two thumb drives and you placed yours with mine was not made clear to me until OLLI called and asked me to check, at which time it was returned. But if you want to argue about thumb drives on a presentation that was made public, have at it.
84% go on the college. Great stats. I can fix the 95%. What are you preparing the kids for, a statistic or an opportunity? And the college stats are on our website, plus a link to a site that you can virtually grab any college in the US and get those individual stats. So if you did your research, maybe sending 84% to college unprepared is not such a great statement.
And what does that have to do with an override? Spending more taxpayer dollars when the residents of this district are already seeing 52% and 58% of their taxes going to education, AND both counties show increase in their SD#9 school taxes without the override. Living with a budget is what all of us have to do. Just reaching into taxpayers pockets for more dollars is not an answer. The taxpayers are already paying for a $73 million bond issue which included an NFL quality football field, a solar field that will cost the taxpayer an estimated $4 million, the Sedona Performing Arts center fiasco…we would like to see some responsibility rather than pet projects.
You are confused about the statement “Businesses are the customers, our kids are the products”? With all due respect, you must have never run a business where you have had to hire a person. If we as a society do not turn out quality educated kids, businesses are not going to hire them. That is pretty straight up. Maybe a philosophy of broadening the scope of what we are teaching the kids needs to be re examined. It is not a hard concept to grasp Zach when we have foreign students outperforming us in almost every category but we as a country spend more per student than every other country. Our “products”, quality educated students, are not measuring up on a global scale.
The typical American high school student spends only 1,460 hours on subjects like math, science, and history during their four years in high schools. Meanwhile, their counterparts in Japan will spend 3,170 hours on basic subjects, French students will spend 3,280 on academics, and German students will spend 3,528 hours studying such subjects – nearly three times the hours devoted in American schools.
We have great universities in this country. Is there any wonder why there are so many foreign students in them?
To Mike Schroeder I would just say – can you try to elucidate? Not one sentence makes any sense to me.
“Businesses are the customers, our kids are the products. You turn out a mediocre product and business goes elsewhere. This is a global economy and global kids if you will compete for positions at those businesses. Maybe you do not think our kids are a product, it is only their future and long term personal and financial success at stake…”
Whether our kids are the customers or the products?? they need to be well educated to compete in a global economy and an additional $60 seems a paltry sum over which to hold such strongly negative views about the quality of the education in Sedona.
Surprise us all and vote YES
Thank you – I thought I was going crazy trying to understand Mike’s logic.
If you have never been an employer, it may not make sense to you. But it should make sense to the people who are educating our kids for the REAL world. Statistics and grades don’t mean a lot when we send kinds out to fend for themselves.
The kids are the product of our education system. And the businesses are the entities who hire them. Businesses are not forced to hire people, at least not yet. They will get the biggest bank for their buck, and that means the brightest kids, no matter WHERE they come from, or what country they come from.
I apologize that you did not understand the statement. I work in the real world of jobs and opportunities. An education that does not prepare for that is pretty much useless.
I would like to continue my job as the music teacher at West Sedona School, a job I have held for 15 years. For the last 4, I have worked there 1/2 time — that is, all the students in my previous weekly schedule squeezed into 2 1/2 days. I worked at Big Park for three of those years to earn a full-time salary, and their student body was also squeezed into the other 2 1/2 days. I was grateful to have a job at all….but doing two people’s job became too much for this one person. I would like to continue with even half-time sharing the joy and appreciation of music with Sedona’s youth, but if the over-ride doesn’t pass, I may not be allowed to. I am a real person who has raised her children in this community since 1991. They became wonderful and smart young women thanks to the education they received in Sedona. It is very sad that the budget for education has decreased due to our State’s lack of adequate funding, so the community, me included, has to pick up the slack. The kids should not be forced to suffer. I share my knowledge and expertise with those children to create wholesome individuals who will contribute to our society one day. This over-ride is not a political ploy. It will affect the real everyday life of adults and children in this community if it doesn’t pass.
Please mail in your YES vote today.
When one cuts thru the mixed metaphors, tortured logic, and just plain gibberish, that the “No” vote crowd employs in an attempt to rationalize their selfishness, it simply comes down to this: you don’t want to spend any money that would benefit another person’s kids….. having had someone else pay to educate you, and/or yours.
Rather, you are in favor of pulling up the ladder, after you’re on board; you’ve got yours, right?
Don’t kid yourself; behind the allusions to industry, and products thereof(?), Lincoln, and Douglas(!), your position is as easily seen as the Emperor’s new clothes…and every bit as becoming.
Before you call the “NO” crowd selfish, you should review your current property tax bill.
It has been my privilege and pleasure to work with a wonderful group of people these past few months – parents and teachers of Sedona’s children – and many others who want our schools and community to be strong.
Instead of pointing the finger and throwing out angry epithets, these folks have done their best to build the schools in this district – not with stones and mortar, but with time and giving. But there is a moment when we, as a community, have to say “we get it”. We get it that our State has slashed revenues for public education by 17% since 2009. We get it that spending per student in Arizona is second to last in the country. And we get it that the only way we offer a full range of subjects to our school students it to – minimally – continue the override and ensure we do offer music, the arts, advanced English and Math – etc. – as part of the school curriculum.
Yes, we need our whole system of education funding overhauled, so that the onus is not carried so heavily by the District. However, I can’t see that happening very soon, especially when our State Representatives are more concerned about widening the rift and comparing our President to Adolf Hitler (De Fuhrer). Ms. Barton is a wonderful example of what our education system should NOT be.
Please vote YES for our Schools, our future and the future of Sedona.
Please let up on poor Mr. Schraeder.
He is quite “on the money” labeling students as products that industries use. If our educational system is turning out engineers, doctors, etc. who are inferior to those available in other countries, corporate consumers will outsource. Simple business acumen, really. Look at how many people are hiring webmasters in India and other countries instead of at home. They are faster, cheaper and more reliable. Could this be the future for all technical fields? Now I understand Mr. Acosta’s simple principle that more money translates to a better education. I never realized that Arizona is a bottom feeder when it comes to spending money on students. No wonder Arizona ranks practically last when it comes to education. That’s embarrassing! We simply have not spent enough and expect a champagne education on a beer budget. We cannot allow America to be passed by a bunch of third-rate countries because we are too cheap to pay for superior teachers.
That’s why we need to put as much cash and expertise into the system as we can and pay teachers what they are worth so those teachers out there doing other things because they cannot afford to teach can get back in the system and do their job. The dumbing down of America, if by design or de-evolution, is not the teachers’ fault but the fault of those who pull the purse strings. Dump Obama! Dump Congress! Eliminate entitlements. Cut welfare. Cut Food Stamps! Support the Tea Party and let’s stop being such stingy old-people and support education here in Sedona. Vote “yes” on the Bond override! I may be a Conservative but I am not stupid.
Good grief! Let’s get back to the issue at hand, shall we?
I think (I hope) we can all agree (maybe?) that our present system of education, like many other systems, does have flaws and could use an overhaul. But while we go about the process of determining what works and what doesn’t, and deciding how to implement changes, what are we going to do about the students who are in school today? Do we penalize them because we, as adults, can’t get our act together? Do we tell them, “Oh, too bad, kids, we don’t like the system the way it is, so we’re going to scrap it and make something better. In the meantime, we hope you don’t mind being sacrificed at the altar of ‘making it better for tomorrow’s kids’.”
Most businesses (since we continue to speak of education as a business) don’t have the luxury of being able to close their doors while remodeling their stores or revamping their systems – they must continue to serve their current customers or lose them. So the businesses ask customers to pardon their dust and to rest assured they will continue to be served while the company spends to build a better facility which will benefit everyone.
Since people like to point out the failure of the American education system by comparing graduates of US schools to those of other countries, let me point out that in many European and Asian countries, students are tracked. The position of their education system is that not everyone has equal abilities or talents in every area. Their students are tested at a fairly young age, and then placed on an education track based on the results. Consequently, students coming out of high school on a math/science track have received an education that is different from those given to most of their counterparts in their country – and in the U.S.
Even though tracking (or as we call it today, homogeneous grouping) became a dirty word in U.S. education in the 1970s (it was considered elitist and a slap in the face of “quality education for all”), we still “track” kids. In many large cities, students who show unusual ability or talent in a particular field have the opportunity to go to a school which specializes in that field, with similarly-talented peers. We call them “magnet schools.” The California Academy of Math and Science (the Los Angeles school district’s math/science magnet high school) was taught on the Cal State Dominguez Hills campus where I did my Education Master’s degree, and I had many opportunities to observe that school. Students had to apply to get into CAMS, and acceptance was not guaranteed. Those students who were enrolled were leaps and bounds ahead of their counterparts in non-magnet schools in math and science. Of course, they had access to state-of-the-art laboratories and materials, were working with peers and teachers who shared their passion and abilities, and were given extra courses in math and science during their much-longer school day.
We have similar schools in Arizona. Paradise Valley High School has CREST (Center for Research in Engineering, Science, and Technology), a specialty school-within-a-school. CREST has state-of-the-art facilities (I toured the school a year ago, and must admit I drooled at their labs!) and specific course “pathways”, and students must apply to be accepted. Public funding doesn’t allow for this type of education, so CREST is heavily funded by outside money – primarily technical industries in the Phoenix area and the City of Phoenix.
The point I am trying to make is that when you compare our graduates to graduates in other countries, you are comparing apples to oranges.
Students in rural areas like Sedona (and yes, we are considered a rural area) don’t have the luxury of specialized schools (at least in the math/science realm), but they do get a very high-quality education at our local schools. If you’d like proof of this, see the colleges and universities our graduates have gone to, and how well they have done compared to graduates from other schools. (I’ll give you a hint – they’ve done pretty darn well!) That quality education does depend on budget override funds to make it happen. We have done much with little – but we can’t do anything with nothing.
One more thing – the budget override and the facilities such as the solar fields, the SPAC and the football field have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Those facilities were built with money from a bond approved by voters in 2007, when the old buildings at West Sedona School badly needed remodeling and Sedona Red Rock High was bursting at the seams. SRRHS no longer has “traveling teachers” – teachers who move themselves and all their teaching materials from classroom to classroom during the school day because there aren’t enough rooms. Now each teacher has his or her own room in which to teach, and the school is fully occupied. (I believe there is only one classroom which is not currently in use as such.)
The budget override is to supplement state funding for “Maintenance and Operations” – which includes everything from teacher salaries to library materials to textbooks to art supplies to science equipment to computers to, yes, grounds maintenance.
Bond money and state (and override) budget money are two different legal entities. By law, bond money cannot be used for district day-to-day operations, and state and override money cannot be used to build or remodel district facilities.
Laurel Romm’s commentary here is the best ever locally written relative to the Education Budget Override issue. It appears to me that she is the person who should be leading the voter education effort. I see no hint of politicization of the issue or ulterior motives. More importantly, what I see in her comments is greater knowledge of the issue than anyone has expressed to date without having been colored by emotion. The logic in her comments is easy to follow, insightful and probable. She deserves a collective hurrah from all of us offering commentary on either side of the issue!
I agree with J. Rick Normand. Laurel Romm concisely states what we have been trying to convey. Thank you Ms. Romm for your concise presentation and thank you Mr. Normand for recognizing it.
The superintendent’s contract is a public document. Please voters, use the public records request process to view it. Or better yet, post it on this website. If it is a public document, why the fear? Perhaps because the minutes and action item of that ‘public meeting’ are so elusive? Zachary, what specific date did you and your fellow board members vote unanimously, and how do we retrieve the minutes?
Zachary, at the same time you were cutting programs earlier this year, why did you vote to grant the superintendent a 20% salary increase should the override pass? Will faculty get 20% raises? Will you promise to resign if the faculty does not receive the raises you granted the superintendent? Faculty goes, the superintendent grows, don’t let the voters know? What is the merit of linking superintendent pay with voter outcomes? Is conflict of interest appropriate to role model for our students? The superintendent has 20,000 reasons to stump for the override, no wonder he is such a staunch supporter of public education!
The override will not expand programs; it will merely be a Band-Aid for the student funding the district is hemorrhaging overall, particularly at West Sedona School. Enrollment reports are public records. The 40 day numbers have been submitted to the state. You can compare apples to apples with this year’s number to last year’s. Your district loses 115% for each kid that leaves this year (next year’s 100% + 15% they would have brought if the override is passed, as funding is based on the previous year’s numbers). Please don’t obfuscate the matter by claiming the district is funded differently based on the type of student, as an audit of your expenditures reveals that special needs students are not revenue positive. Your best position is to stipulate that all losses are equal, or you dig yourself deeper. In the Spring of 2014, we will all act surprised as the freeze in salaries perpetuates for all but the administrators, electives are not added, and incumbents focus on what is important: their Fall 2014 re-elections. Will you resign if the override passes and all the money goes only to atone for the sins of leadership causing this flight in district enrollment? What programs do you guarantee will be added (backed by your resignation)? Are you willing to deviate from your propensity to not be accountable for outcomes (because, after all, you are only the president of the school board), and give voters an exact tangible list of what will be added even against the canvas of having lost more funding revenue from parents voting with their feet than the override will bring?
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t be the voice of certainty for the district when you advocate for money, yet hide behind your superintendent and CFO when it comes to the specifics of codifying where the money will go. Everything is so hazy, and funding formulas soooo complicated, when it comes to guaranteeing how the money will be spent. Yet things are so clear when you need money? Only in Sedona is what is good for the goose not good for the gander.
The ‘no’ vote centers on accountability. How accountable are you and the superintendent willing to be? Rather than using our children as hostages to insulate against dysfunction in your effort to win hearts, isn’t it more professional to use accountability to win our minds?
The ‘no’ vote calls. Will you show your hand, or will you continue to hang your hat on rote preaching to the choir, and hope no one realizes the emperor has no clothes?
Or, will you do the honorable thing, and fold for the good of our children?
I’ve noticed many (5) of Rick Normand’s comments have been removed? I thought the ‘comment section’ was a way to express our opinions, positions and/or knowledge? This is what a comment section is all about.
Giving us ‘Freedom of Speech’ is definitely not happening here!
I’m appalled that you are removing comments that exemplify a reader’s opinion or stance on a situation or matter. Sedona.biz credibility spiraling downward.
Ms. Chott, Mr. Normand’s comments were removed not because of his opinions on the issue under discussion, but because they contained personal attacks. Mr. Normand is a very intelligent man, and we value his opinions. If Mr. Normand would like to re-submit his comments without the personal attacks, we would be delighted to re-publish them.
We also invite you to submit your own comments on the budget override issue. ~Sedona.biz Staff