It’s good to be a Longhorn — especially this week.
The undefeated, undoubtedly awesome Lady Longhorns softball team seeks to add another win to their dazzling string of victories today at 4 p.m.
Better yet, Albert Hunt will offer up his deep-pit barbecue — the stuff of legends — for the team’s crucial, annual fund-raiser. Please note, the district provides almost no funding for extracurricular activities — even a softball team that’s got a serious shot at winning a state championship this year. The sports teams, bands, student clubs, academic teams and drama program all depend on the unfailing generosity of the most awesome folks found anywhere — which is to say you folks.
The savory, beefy wonderfulness starts at 4, at the same time as the JV game. Don’t be late, it’s sure to sell out.
The Lady Longhorns start their game at 6 — at the same time as the boys baseball team. You can hop from field to field and savor the joys of small-town baseball, under balmy skies with a bellyful of beef. The baseball team hasn’t steamrollered its foes like the girls this year — but they have a good chance of making it into the playoffs themselves.
The fund-raiser pays for uniforms, travel costs, tournament fees, equipment. Dinner’s just $6 — but it’s worth $20 (which is probably what you ought to put in the kitty anyhow).
Meantime, you can sit back and watch the best softball team to take the field in Rim Country history.
Sit back and gloat: No doubt about it. It’s great to be a Longhorn.
Grab the tin foil helmets
Let’s see if we grasp the situation.
Faced with an enrollment decline during the worst recession in half a century, the Payson Unified School District puts Frontier Elementary School on the auction block.
Never mind that the town’s general plan envisions the current population of 15,000 growing to 38,000.
Never mind that the Rim Country Educational Alliance is about to sign a deal to bring a 6,000-student university to town.
Never mind that Payson’s just about the only community in Arizona with enough water to grow.
Never mind that the taxpayers spent far more to build Frontier than the district will get from selling it.
Never mind that the real estate market’s still bumping along the bottom.
Nope. Don’t bother us with all those confusing facts. The never-explained formula offered up by the Arizona School Board Association says we’ll never get back the students we lost: Down, down, down the rabbit hole we go. Don’t need no school site, no how, not never.
All right. For the moment, let us grant the premise. Enrollment’s down, won’t come back up for years — if ever: We don’t need Frontier.
So, heck — let’s sell it for $1.25 million to a private school — whose future growth and survival will depend on how many students it can siphon away from the already dwindling Payson Unified School District.
What struggling business would have a fire sale to benefit a competitor? Does this make any sense at all? We must be missing something.
Mind you, we’ve been impressed with new Superintendent Ron Hitchcock’s emphasis on student achievement — and research. We’ve also been impressed by the seriousness and diversity of the present school board. Moreover, the discussion of how to use the one-time infusion of money from the sale to add on to Payson Elementary School made sense. Classrooms for all-day kindergarten, reading intervention and assemblies makes all the sense in the world.
Nonetheless, selling Frontier to a competing school sounds like crazy talk. Get out the tin foil helmets. This is just weird.
Of course, maybe the board has gotten tired of the layoffs, state budget cuts and slap-dash state reforms. Maybe they just want to give up and sell off the schools one by one to their private competitors at swap meet prices and get themselves out of the education business.
That’s kind of what it looks like. But then, maybe we’re just not grasping the situation.