Psst. You there. Payson voter.
They’re talking about you.
Turns out, you’ve got the folks teaching the kids on which the future depends kind of worried.
Well, scared to death, actually.
Seems that voters between now and Nov. 4 will decide whether to continue a budget override that generates $1.4 million annually for the district through a property tax levy that adds about $82 annually to the tax bill for a $200,000 house.
The money accounts for maybe 10 percent of the operations and maintenance budget for the high school, two middle schools and three elementary schools.
If voters don’t approve the continuation of the override — several bad things happen.
First off, goodbye to music programs, school nurses, some PE programs, libraries and other vital programs.
Next, we’ll deal a body blow to the morale of the teachers doing their patient best to get our kids ready to buckle down and improvise during the next financial crisis so as to keep our Social Security checks coming. Many young teachers are just hanging on now — judging by the turnover rate and the difficulty of recruiting teachers who can pay for Payson housing on an educator’s salary.
So why are the people who have devoted their careers to our kids and grandkids so worried?
Often, these little override elections show up on a local ballot and districts can count on a 20-percent turnout, dominated by the minority of folks in the community with kids. Districts can count on those parents — especially in responsive, well-run districts with good test scores like ours.
But the swooning economy and a Presidential election could produce an 80-percent turnout this year.
And that worries many advocates for our kids. Will all retirees care about kids and schools? Will hard-pressed working people without children cough up even that little bit — which works out to the cost of a cup of coffee every day for a month?
But we say, don’t sweat it. We’re talking Payson here. We know residents will vote ‘yes.’
Those retirees care about this community — just check out the audience at any council meeting. They’re members of that Greatest Generation — they know all about sacrifice and service. They’re not going to abandon our kids. And we’re also talking about the working people of Payson — who have bet their livelihoods on this town and know we can’t have a healthy community with sick schools.
So don’t fret.
No way these voters — our readers — would lighten the rowboat by throwing the kids overboard.
Rest easy, teach. We’ve got you covered.