They say that the animals start to look at each other differently as the water hole dries up. In tough budget times, we too, are inclined to be a little less communal in our thoughts and deeds, as worry about employment, bills, our kids’ future, occupies us.
Our challenge, as teachers, administrators and staff, is to be able to step aside from our own personal fears about the future and do our best to provide Payson’s kids with quality schooling in safe and supportive classrooms and schools. As we look back at the many achievements and accomplishments of our students, teachers and schools this past semester, it’s clear to me that PUSD staff has shown a lot of fortitude in overcoming worries and performing at exemplary levels.
Are there real reasons to worry? You bet. There is a gaping $800 million shortfall in this fiscal year’s state budget and the projected shortfall for 2012 is roughly $1.4 billion. Schools all over Arizona are feeling a bit like skittish antelope around that shrinking water hole as the Legislature considers cuts to K-12, universities and “potentially” AHCCCS as the only recourse in balancing the budget.
What about the budget override that passed last March? The Payson community stepped up in a big way to support our schools with this vote. Here’s where we stand though. Young families have moved from Payson in search of work elsewhere over the summer and our enrollment is down by a little over 100 students. Enrollment determines funding for next year and that loss takes a huge bite out of the override. Take away the federal funding that has propped up the state for the last two years, a larger looming state budget deficit, and we are again facing very tough budget decisions for FY 2012.
When the water hole dries up, it’s all about survival, but survival is not acceptable when we are talking about educating our children. We need to thrive. As tough and painful as last year’s cuts were, do an online search of the Class Acts articles in the Payson Roundup these last months and you’ll see that we have strived to thrive — not simply survive. Speaking on behalf of the governing board, we are so very proud of our teachers and staff and their commitment to kids in the face of adversity.
Credit for Kids is one way that thriving versus surviving is made possible. By choosing to have some portion of your state income tax obligation go to local schools, you allow us to sustain quality extracurricular programs that support academics, athletics and the arts.
Without such support, particularly in these “dry” times, their survival would be in question. Please contact Susan Campbell at 474-2070 for more information.
In this season of giving I would like to thank our parents and community members for their continued support. We will, I am confident, find the means and will to persevere through the budget challenges ahead and pave the way to a bright future for Payson’s children.