I have lived in Prescott for 10 years with my family. Our whole family is involved with Prescott Unified School District (PUSD). I am a volunteer for our Prescott High School PTSA; my husband is a driver of one of our PUSD buses, our children both attend or attended PUSD schools. Our children have thrived in the public school system. I have always supported public schools as I feel children receive a more rounded education in a diversified setting. There will always be new schools, special schools, and charter schools but I have never been interested in pursuing an education with them for our children.
My concern about the public education system runs deep. I am appalled that our representatives in the Senate and House will tell us that the only way to get more support (funding) for our existing public schools (which we have already purchased with taxpayers hard earned tax dollars) is to pass and bond for the buildings (to just maintain them like you would your own home) and an override to start to pay our teachers what they are worth. Arizona teachers are among the lowest paid in the USA. Currently, our children, teachers, support staff are being viewed by our citizens that they are worth less. Our state is currently 52nd in the nation in per pupil spending. What a sad time in our country where we only value the shiny new building and not support the investment we already have. It is our duty as a community to take care of our children for the future is theirs.
Why as a town should we support this bond and override that is on the Nov. 3 ballot? Well because we own the public district buildings, and in order to be good stewards of those before us who helped build those buildings we expect each generation to maintain our buildings.
I expect you as you as my neighbor, to do a few things for your fellow retired community member! First, I challenge all of my friends and their friends to register to vote this week! Then, my friends I will ask you all to open your ballots and vote Yes for the bond and Yes for the override. Then I will gently remind you to drop off your ballot or simply mail it in.
If for some reason you don't feel it's necessary to support our public school system by voting, I will ask you to participate in one or all of the up-coming "PUSD Bond and Override information meetings." Perhaps after attending one of these meetings you will see why we need to take care of our public investments, our buildings, our staff, and our students. Please take one hour and visit one of or all of our schools. Look at what maintenance items need attention. The meetings are: Sept. 9 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Abia Judd Elementary School in the multi- purpose room, Sept. 10 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Lincoln Elementary School in the cafeteria, Sept. 16 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Granite Mountain School in the cafeteria, Sept. 23 from 5 to 6 p.m. at Taylor Hicks Elementary School in the multi-purpose room, and finally Sept. 24 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Prescott Mile High Middle School in the Hendrix auditorium.
The next time you see a play at the Ruth Street Theater, watch a football, soccer or basketball game or see some beautiful artwork at the post office, think about the possibility of not having those programs anymore. We must take care of our schools, staff and students. Support this bond and override.
JoAnne Chaffeur is a resident of Prescott. She is a volunteer for the GMMS Project, 2009-10 PTO President at Abia Judd, 2009-10 PTSO VP at GMMS and a concerned citizen for the future of our kids and our community.