By Jim Rappaport, Sedona and Boston, MA
(August 25, 2013)
I spend part of my year in beautiful Sedona. My wife and I are empty nesters and do not personally benefit from better schools and more money being spent on education. That having been said, I have come to appreciate the diversity of our community and understand the importance of a solid education system, one that is well rounded and well-funded. We all benefit. Children are our future. These children will be our future leaders. Their parents are our friends, neighbors, employees, professionals, police and fire personnel, managers of the services that we use. Our Arizona teachers are underpaid based on national and regional standards and on what we ask of them, to educate our children to be productive members of our society, competent and capable to contribute to the greater good. Our total educational expenditures are low compared to much of the nation. We can do better so that our children can do better.
I am Chairman of two companies, one based in Boston, and one based in Washington DC. I was Co-Chair of the Sedona Miracle fundraising event for several years, and was also honored as the Philanthropist of the Year by the Sedona Community Foundation several years ago. I have been involved in politics in Massachusetts for much of the last thirty years, having run for statewide office twice. As someone who has spent much of the last thirty years opposing the big spending of the Massachusetts education establishment, I have been impressed with how lean the Arizona educational system is. So much so that I find it important as a member of the Sedona Community to speak out in support of ensuring that our children receive the necessary education to be effective in the future. Remember that, as we all age, gracefully of course, we are looking at these children to be our doctors, nurses, police and fire personnel, caretakers and service providers. Maybe a great inventor or scientist or Nobel Prize winner. Making sure that these efforts on behalf of our children and our neighbors’ children are fairly funded is prudent and benefits us all.
Massachusetts has had an aggressive charter school system. Unfortunately it is limited and many districts are bumping up to that limit according to the State House News Service in MA. The legislature is looking at increasing the number, but unions don’t like it of course.
Until you start linking educational dollars to the student so parents can evaluate the merits of different schools you can continue to throw money at a lousy educational system and get the results we are experiencing. You would think that after decades of doing the same thing with lousy results we would make a change. Took that to turn New Zealand education system around, but we don’t seem to learn from other success stories.
I agree, GOOD teachers need to make good money. Mediocre teachers need to go away. Competition in education makes it happen. Nothing else will.
One might ask how much educational bang for the buck we got out of a field of solar cells at our high school.
To note points missed by Mr. Schroeder in his comment, one needs to ask how many honors our schools won in the last few years; how well the students tested compared to other school districts across the nation; and how many of our teachers earned distinction.
The schools want more money. Well, show us why?
Part of the reason teachers don’t make larger salaries here in Arizona, is that there are no teachers unions.
That’s supposed to be helpful. Instead the state has taken advantage of that.
Do you realize Mr Schroeder, that a teacher with an advanced graduate degree in this county earns less than 29,000. a year? This has nothing to do with experience, or QUALITY of their teaching skills. This is purely a lack of funding.
Certainly, they chose to be an educator because they love their job. But they do have to pay the rent.
Merit pay is fine, but you can’t get milk from a turnip.
There is obviously a disconnect here. The schools are not asking for more money. The Override has been part of the school budget since the District opened its doors in 1995 and has been supported by the voters of Sedona until 2012. The schools are looking to restore what has been cut. The school budget since 2007 has been cut nearly 30%. As to the honors the schools and teachers have won, obviously you have not been reading the paper over the years because there have been too many to list here. Take a few minutes and meet with the principals or superintendent to get an updated listing. Solar Panels? Again you can make an appointment with the district finance officer to see how much the district is saving on its electric bill, savings that are used to supplement the cost of education. As to Massachusetts and New Zealand to see how it applies to your concerns. Please research the FACTS before you jump to conclusions.
The “issue” in re the Override is not a budget increase per se…notwithstanding the legislature’s insistence that term be used on the ballots… but rather a restoration of budget funds cut by the failure of the override to pass last Fall, as it has routinely in years past. This has resulted in cuts in programs already, which will substantially worsen over the next 4 years, unless the measure passes this time out. The override money is not used to increase individual teachers salaries; it is used to keep paying, at the same level, the number of teachers needed to offer the programs our students have had in the past, need to be competitive, and that parents want.
AZ ranks near the bottom, 48 out of 50 states, in financial support for education. As the saying goes, “You get (at most…) what you pay for”. The funds accrued from the Override go to supplement chronic State under-funding for Sedona’s students education, not for capital expenditures like solar panels or the Preforming Arts Centers; those projects are paid for out of a separate ‘pot’, the capital budget, about which I do not have enough information to have an informed opinion. Nor, do I suspect, do most others who seem to have one, and are more than willing to share it. e.g.,I don’t know how much non-local, State and Federal money was involved, or whether the panel project saves or costs money in the long run; and I’d venture to say those referencing these projects to bolster their position don’t either.
While I agree that good teachers should be rewarded, and bad ones “go away”, that is not the point. If the Override does not pass, both will go away… as will most if not all of our kid’s ‘non-core’, i.e., all but the most basic, lower level subjects. Going, going gone; advanced math and science courses, their sports, music, art programs, safety officers, guidance counselors, etc.,etc. Our kids will be left with only the “basics”, as well as other state mandated, but un-funded, remedial and ‘mainstreaming’ programs. With such poor school offerings, Sedona can not hope to attract younger, productive, tax-paying, working people and their families going froward.
Without these types, you will see a lot fewer bucks to bang….
It’s amazing to me that people can only look at their own situation when it comes the bond override instead of the big picture of our community. Big Park School is a vital part of our community and our children’s future. I don’t think people really realize that if the override is not passed in the upcoming years our school will have no choice but to close! YES THE SCHOOL WILL CLOSE! What do you think that will do to our community, our property values, and all those families who rely on and love our school? We continue to hear from many empty nesters and seniors… that their children are grown and they don’t have a need for the school. But don’t forget that at one time in your life you needed the schools in your area and why should you be the ones to deny that to our children now? What if your own children wanted to move here and raise their families here to be closer to their grandparents? But because too many people voted no, the grandchildren have no school to go to. There are more and more generations having to live together these days just to survive. But without a school…who is going to move here when the property values go way down…and we have that empty building sitting there reminding all of us we could have done something about this. I personally have lived here since 1995, have my own business, and attended many fundraisers for the school before I even had children of my own. I always knew if we did have children they would go to Big Park. My son is now 7 and couldn’t be happier there. And I as a mom, I couldn’t be happier with the school. It’s the one thing in my life that I don’t worry about. I know he is happy and safe. Which is saying a lot these days. So many people I know worry about their children at school. Sedona is the most amazing community, but it’s priorities are not where they should be on this. Yes, not only should our teachers get paid more…but our schools should have the budget they need to operate efficiently in order for our children to be prepared for life in this ever changing world. Our school did not mismanage the funds and this override has passed every year since the school was open until last year. If we don’t come together as a community and pass this budget override each year we will all be feeling the effects of losing our school for many years to come when we could have done something about it. PLEASE SAVE OUR SCHOOL AND OUR COMMUNITY! VOTE YES ON THE BUDGET OVERRIDE!
well put….but why not put your name on it?
Why can’t anyone who is supporting this measure tell us how much money will be available and specifically where ALL the extra money is going to be spent. All they talk about is save our sports, cross country, football and extra curricular activities. Give us specific numbers!
The high school has had failing AIMS grades in both science and math for many years. Tell us what is being done to fix that before the school gets more money.
After spending millions on unnecessary capital projects like the Performing Arts Center and a new football field, the school district has a weak argument for more $$$. This District has screwed up priorities.
The District and School administration are failing our children and its not because they don’t have enough money. When they had the money several years ago they were still failing our students.
Fear Fear Fear is the only argument that is being used by the YES group and that isnt going to work.
I am a teacher at the high school and while I agree that the administration and committee should be more specific with where the money will be spent, I am alarmed that a parent feels that our school is not doing its job, but failing our students. Yes, AIMS math scores have been historically lower than reading and writing (science was only piloted not a graduation requirement); however, last year they increased substantially due to a conscientious effort made by every employee at the high school. We tutored, mentored, tutored, guided, tutored, modeled, tutored, facilitated and tutored some more! Everyone was on board! The students saw it, felt and most importantly appreciated it. We are a family at SRRHS and I’m proud of what each and every one of us does every day — all day.
I keep hearing about our salaries and yes, teachers are hoping to receive a raise because we haven’t had one for six years — yes, six years! In fact, anyone who has worked in the district longer than six years has seen a decrease in pay — approximately 10% for me.
This override is vital. We had to reduce our 2013-14 district budget by $270,000. If the override doesn’t pass then we will do the same for the 2014-15 budged AND the 2015-2016 budget. That would be devastating. The state has been decreasing our budget for 5 years straight and we have done everything to save jobs — but there is nothing left.
I invite everyone and anyone who wants to see a teacher in action to come to our school and we will bring you into our home away from home and impress.
Don’t be disillusioned, disgruntled or dissatisfied . . . . be vigilant and informed, be compassionate and supportive.
These kids are our lives — give them what they deserve.
Mother of Three
“After spending millions on unnecessary capital projects like the Performing Arts Center and a new football field, the school district has a weak argument for more $$$. This District has screwed up priorities.”
THIS WAS BOND MONEY.
Yes it was not spent as well as maybe it could have been. But different “money”, different budget. It didn’t have an impact on annual budgets.
I am always skeptical when governments and public agencies ask for more of our money, particularly when someone claims “it’s for the children”. This is NOT one of those times.
The facts are that the state of Arizona badly underfunds elementary education today. There is no money in the State budget for Science or Match classes that you and I took, and took for granted, when we went to school. These “extra” classes must be funded out of the local budget. If the budget override is not approved, the children of Sedona will be denied the minimum education necessary to succeed in life. None of this override budget is going to “gimmicks” or “perks” as some have suggested. It is all going to pay for education beyond the bare basics. You are enjoying your life in Sedona because your parents took the responsibility to pay for your elementary education. Now it is your responsibility to ensure that the next generation of children also receive an education that is more than merely “basic”. Vote to approve the override. You are voting for your own future.