Education is everyone’s business. It certainly has been in the news a lot lately and Arizonans are engaging in discussions of how to remedy years of underfunded public education. I suppose that is why it was so disheartening to read the column by Mr. Daryl Lassen.
For the sake of perspective, it is important to note that Mr. Lassen worked in California as a teacher for 44 years and I would guess that he has not set foot in a Prescott school since he came here. He is simply wrong about this community of educators.
I am the president of the PUSD Education Foundation. This 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation, which was created with the sole mission to support Prescott Unified School District — not only because of dismal funding from the state but because the Prescott community cares about its schools, teachers, staff and students. I have had the opportunity to work hand in hand with our superintendent, district administration of all levels, principals, teachers, and classified staff. There is absolutely no administration-versus-teacher battle in our district. We are all on the same team — not only in the schools but also in our community.
The idea of teacher housing in Prescott was birthed by a PUSD principal (and teacher for many years in PUSD), PUSD Superintendent and PUSD Education Foundation leaders. These leaders heard about the idea from the Vail School District, which was building tiny homes for teachers. The Vail teachers were excited for the opportunity to live affordably in the more affluent community in which they taught.
Don’t be fooled by Mr. Lassen’s column. Had he researched the matter he would quickly learn that there is no money in the PUSD budget for teacher housing. Certainly, the idea of teacher housing was never “a chance to control teachers, keep teachers in a subservient position, and of course, keep their salaries down.” Rather, the goal was to retain and attract well-qualified teachers for PUSD. Prescott is a beautiful place to call home, but it can be expensive for a teacher to maintain a residence within Prescott.
The goal of the teacher housing project is to create a way for our amazing educators to have an opportunity to live where they work in an affordable way. Prescott teacher housing will be completed through community partnerships with other entities that love educators and love Prescott. PUSD has no money for such an undertaking, but this community cares enough to make it happen because we value our educators.
Mr. Lassen encourages readers to take a close look at the budget of PUSD to see what is really going on here. Apparently, he did not take his own advice. There is no PUSD budget item for this project — the foundation is seeking partners and private donations to make it happen. Please do check out the budget, I suspect you will be surprised at the creative fiscal genius required to make PUSD the thriving district that it is today.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Lassen did not feel valued by administration or his community throughout his teaching career and is now projecting his negative experiences on our community. We invite him into our schools to see what is really happening. He may walk away refreshed at the comradery and oneness of purpose that he will encounter in PUSD.
Krista Carman is the President of the PUSD Education Foundation and local attorney who loves her community of Prescott, Arizona.