The gauntlet has been tossed in the direction of the Payson Unified School District. On May 16, three East Valley School Districts Gilbert Unified, Mesa Unified and Tempe Elementary all approved district initiated override elections to raise teacher salaries and make other program and student improvements. Even the Dysart Unified District, a low-paying district like Payson, approved an override to raise salaries.
Starting salaries for these three districts for the 2000-2001 school year will be in the $27,000 to $28,000 range, while PUSD's will be in the $23,000 range. Where will beginning teachers want to teach? A $4,000 to $5,000 difference in salary per year is significant, and projected over a 25-year teaching career would amount to at least a difference of $100,000. Quite an inducement to not teach in Payson.
PUSD will become a training ground for other districts, with new teachers moving on as soon as they gain some experience at a low-paying district.
The "bottom line" is this: PUSD is out of balance with other similar districts in Arizona. The PUSD Governing Board and the superintendent need to be proactive and initiate an override election for the fall of 2000. Failure to enact a better pay scale for PUSD teachers will only make it more difficult to attract and retain quality educators.
As in business and in retail, you get what you pay for. All of us in Northern Gila County want a quality education for all of our youth. Are we willing to pay for it?
Richard K. Meszar