While I applaud the voters of Payson for finally approving the much-needed funding for the local schools, I am absolutely and utterly appalled at the way in which the high school's portion of the funds will be spent.
I understand that the high school is in a state of complete disrepair and as a recent graduate I have firsthand experience. As Kristi Ford so eloquently put it, the situation can no longer be "bandaged." But, is a new Astroturf football field really the best way to begin removing the "black mark from the face of Payson education?"
I wholeheartedly disagree.
Facilities do matter. Nice classrooms make learning a heck of a lot more pleasant. But learning is impossible when textbooks are unavailable to every student in the class, not to mention that they are often outdated and in poor condition. The last thing Payson High School needs is to place further emphasis on the sports program at the expense of the education of its students. The Payson High athletic program has been reaping the benefits of the Credit for Kids program for eight years since that money was first used to buy new bleacher seats and later the new track and upgraded fields, as cited by Carol La Valley in a recent article on the program.
Also, the wonderful athletic director Dave Bradley has succeeded in getting Bob Chmiel, a longtime Notre Dame football coach, to give a presentation on "The Realities of College Recruiting" at the high school in the near future. While I am aware of Bradley's charm, I doubt that he was able to get Chmiel to travel to Payson gratis after I noted his distinguished 28-year career as a college football coach.
These are just two examples of very recent events that succeed in glorifying athletics and siphoning funding away from academics. Sports are a part of the high school experience. I understand this. But the objective of the high school experience is to obtain an education and considering Arizona's rock bottom rankings, as witnessed in the Morgan Quitno "Smartest State Rankings" discussed on CNN and various other news publications, this objective is not being met. One concrete way to improve upon the current situation is to increase the quantity and quality of the textbooks used in classrooms.
My younger sister's Advanced Placement U.S. History is currently short on textbooks, a problem that I am sure occurs quite frequently and which could easily be remedied with a small portion of that $1 million going to the Astroturf field.
I am disgusted by the irresponsibility of whatever leadership body is in charge of the bond distribution. Such frivolous spending must be reprimanded. Drastic change is necessary if there is to be any hope for the proper education of Payson's children.
Danielle Goebel, Payson High Class of 2005