Vote Yes On Schools Override

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It's unfortunate that the Arizona Legislature places such a low priority on education that the state ranks 49th in the nation in education funding.

When states like New York spend nearly twice as much per student as Arizona ($9,555 vs. $5,319), the concept of equal opportunity for all becomes ludicrous. That's why 86 percent of the children in Arizona attend school in districts where budget overrides are already in place.

The Payson Unified School District is in the minority of districts that have managed to get by on the Legislature's meager gruel for too long. But nobody likes a tax increase, however minimal, so the district's request for a budget override deserves close scrutiny.

There are a lot of specific reasons to vote "YES" on the Payson Unified School District's budget override on May 18.

If we don't come to the aid of our schools, our children face larger class sizes and an erosion of the enrichment programs that we all took for granted when we were in school -- programs like music, drama and, yes, athletics.

If we don't come to the aid of our schools, more and more quality teachers will go elsewhere -- because they simply can't afford to live here.

If we don't come to the aid of our schools, their continuing erosion will spill into our community and impact the very lifestyle we all value so much. Former mayor Craig Swartwood, head of the Payson Kids Count committee, is right when he says, "Without quality education, you don't have much of a community."

Swartwood calls education the center of the synergy that a community generates, and his is a vision we would all do well to consider. Not only does a substandard school system impact crime and otherwise strain the services the town provides (with our tax dollars), but it also affects health care and many of the other fundamental elements that come together to create a quality of life that doesn't exist in very many places.

But most important, the citizens who live within the boundaries of the Payson Unified School District need to say "YES" to our children because to do otherwise would be totally counter to what our community has always been about -- what we stand for and who we are.

Time after countless time, the residents of the Rim country have stepped up to help others -- to man and maintain the finest emergency shelter anywhere during the Rodeo-Chediski Fire, to volunteer for any number of worthy causes and organizations, to extend a helping hand to an individual or family facing a crisis.

It doesn't matter if your children are grown and gone. The children of the Rim country belong to all of us, and they are some of the very best kids anywhere.

To tell them to get by on less than 86 percent of the children in Arizona, less than the children in 48 states in the union, is just not right. And right is what the Rim country has always been about.

The Roundup urges you to vote "YES" on the budget override.

(Editor's note: In next Tuesday's Roundup, school board member, parent and business owner Kristi Ford answers the 10 most frequently asked questions about the budget override.)

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