District Earns High Return On Investment Status

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Two weeks ago the Center for American Progress released the results of a major study addressing the concept of return on investment (ROI) in education. This report was the culmination of a yearlong study on the efficiency of the nation’s public education system and includes the first-ever effort to evaluate the productivity of almost every major school district (9,000) in the United States.

Payson and every other unified (K-12) school district in Arizona were included in the study and report. Payson came out in the top quadrant of school districts in Arizona. The predictive analysis indicated that, given the many variables used in the study, Payson is in the best performing group of districts in Arizona and the nation. In other words, for the dollars we spend to educate Payson’s children, we are a top value and our community is getting a great return on investment.

This is a wonderful affirmation for teachers, staff and parents. My worry is how long we can continue to beat the odds and be a top return on investment school district if reducing staff and closing a school are the budget “solutions” that we have as our only viable options.

From the Arizona Constitution we read: “… the legislature shall make such appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions, and shall make such special appropriations as shall provide for their development and improvement.”

The framers of our state’s constitution understood the

importance of public education. Can we continue to develop and improve with funding levels for fiscal year 2012 that will be below those of 2006? How many Payson and Arizona high school graduates will find college out of reach because state support for our public universities, in Governor Brewer’s budget proposal, is dropped to 1960’s levels?

I understand the magnitude of our state’s budget problem, and I’m not writing to criticize our state elected officials. They have a difficult and often thankless job. Having said this, I try to simplify things. We have a mandate to educate our children. We need to work together to accomplish this. Mission objectives were clear and not open to interpretation when I was a military officer.

I see our obligation to children much in the same way. We do, as a state, whatever it takes to accomplish the mission of educating our students. Call me naïve perhaps with regard to state politics, but I don’t see our kids’ futures as a negotiable item in the state budget.

As superintendent, I believe it is my responsibility, always, to look for sources to sustain forward momentum. I invite you to look online at The Arizona Education Commitment (www.expectmoreaz.org).

“The Arizona Education Commitment is a statewide, nonpartisan initiative led by the O’Connor House and Expect More Arizona. The partnership includes business, philanthropic, nonprofit, and faith-based institutions, leaders and concerned citizens who are committed to Arizona, and believe our state’s long-term economic growth and prosperity is directly tied to a strong educational system and an educated work force.”

As a community, we can be proud of the district’s return on investment status. Let’s continue to work together, so that if this ROI study is repeated in five years, Payson is still at the top.

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