As May 18 approaches, we will likely hear many opinions on the Payson Unified School District's budget override. As CEO of Payson Regional Medical Center, I would like to offer a different perspective on this issue, which I believe is one of the most important our community will face.
We are fortunate to have a strong community hospital in Payson. During the past seven years, PRMC has invested more than $22 million in new equipment and services and the recruitment of skilled physicians to our area.
However, a community is only as strong as its weakest link. Despite the efforts of many fine teachers and administrators, our school system continues to struggle with budget shortfalls. Without the override, 16 teachers will be eliminated, resulting in larger class sizes and fewer extra-curricular activities.
While this move would have serious consequences for students, it would also hurt our local economy, making it harder to attract new businesses and increase our tax base.
It may also have a negative effect on our ability to recruit and retain quality physicians and medical professionals. I routinely speak with physicians considering starting a practice in our community. Without question, one of the most important factors in their decision is the quality of the local schools. Despite all that it has to offer, Arizona ranks 49th in the country in the amount of money we spend per student. Add bigger classrooms and fewer teachers and after-school programs to this equation and we are more likely to lose many of the best candidates to other cities.
Last year alone, our physician recruitment efforts brought more than 20 new families to the area. More than half of our employees have school-aged children. Like other area businesses, our hospital depends on these people to carry out our mission. Without quality schools, it will be more difficult for organizations like ours to retain a strong work force.
A strong and progressive school system is vital to the future of our children and the health of our community. Please vote "yes" for the school override on May 18. Thank you for your continued support of Payson Regional Medical Center.
Chris Wolf, Chief Executive Officer, Payson Regional Medical Center