I've been proud to be a part-time resident of our Rim country for over 20 years. Progress during these two decades of my home ownership in the Payson area has been incredible.
Recent developments such as the addition of a community college campus, new housing and retail outlets, and the soon-to-be-completed four-lane highway to the East Valley are all equally impressive and add to our quality of life.
The recent Roundup article regarding beginning teacher salaries in Gila County was most distressing and disturbing. Payson, whether we like it our not, is no longer aligned with other communities in Gila County from an educational standpoint.
Due to our proximity and similarities, we are more connected to Mesa, Chandler, Fountain Hills, Apache Junction, etc. than we are to San Carlos, Hayden, Winkleman, Miami, etc.
Our Payson students must compete for jobs, college scholarships, opportunities, etc. against East Valley students in the marketplace.
The recruitment and retention of quality, competent, dedicated and empathetic teachers must be a top priority of the Payson (School District) Governing Board, the administration, and the citizens of the Payson area. Money isn't the sole ingredient needed for a terrific education for our youngsters, but without a financial commitment on our part, many of our best and brightest will opt to teach elsewhere or enter more lucrative professions.
The starting salary for a beginning teacher in Payson schools should be in the 26,000 to 28,000 range via budget allocations and/or an override election dedicated solely to increasing teacher benefits.
We are now a northern extension of the East Valley -- the best part of the Valley in my opinion. It's time we provided our youngsters with equally compensated and qualified teachers like the Gilbert, Mesa, and Chandler schools do. Our schools are our schools and they will become no better than we wish, want, will them to be.
Education is not an expense, but an investment. We need to invest in our teachers so they can give 110 percent in helping our students be the best they can be.
Richard K. Meszar, Ed.D, Payson