Superintendent's Report: Schools and economic development
Economic development is where a government entity puts in place policies to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for an area. These policies are put in place to support businesses, create and retain jobs, increase workers’ incomes and increase the tax base, thus decreasing taxes.
Currently, the City of Prescott is in the midst of an election for city council and mayor. One of the major topics of discussion in the election is economic development. Prescott Valley has prioritized economic development and over 10 years ago formed the Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation to promote development. The Town of Chino Valley is currently in the planning stages of developing an industrial park at the town-owned Old Home Manor to jump-start Chino Valley’s economic development. It is clear that economic development is important to the city and towns in our area.
You may be wondering why I am discussing economic development in an article about schools. Schools are a vital part of the equation when it comes to economic development. Last week the deadline passed for cities to submit a proposal for Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2). Having Amazon in a city would result in upwards of 50,000 jobs with an average compensation over $100,000.
The request for proposals specifically asked for information on universities, community colleges, and K-12 education. When businesses relocate or expand into an area, they need to make sure that there are able employees to fill their ranks. In addition, these employees will have families and it will be important to the employees that their children can receive a quality education in their community. The Arizona Chamber of Business and Industry recognizes the importance of strong schools by making a “World-Class Education System” one of their four policy priorities for 2017.
So what do quality school systems look like?
From the article “What Makes a Quality School Public School?” from GiveKidsGoodSchools.org, there are nine qualities of a high-quality public school. These include 1) college and career readiness for its graduates, 2) high expectations for all students, 3) parent and community support, 4) qualified teachers in every classroom, 5) rigorous curriculum and fair assessments, 6) sufficient resources that help all students achieve, 7) safe, healthy and supportive learning environment, 8) schools and classrooms equipped for teaching and learning, and 9) strong school leadership.
A former Chino Valley Area Chamber of Commerce executive once told me his stance when it came to schools, which I often repeat. Strong schools equal economic development and economic development equals strong schools. You cannot have one without the other.
John Scholl is superintendent of Chino Valley Unified School District.