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home : opinions : opinions February 6, 2016

10/16/2013 11:33:00 AM
Some are missing big picture on HUSD override
By Tori Kendall
Special to the Tribune

I am writing in favor of the override for HUSD. I am a teacher for HUSD, and I will speak as a teacher but first I want to speak as a citizen in general.

Over the past several weeks I have been listening to the conversations regarding the override. I have heard the arguments for and against and I have heard a lot of false information. I, too, live on a fixed income and I have owned a small business, so I have a unique perspective aside from being a teacher.

I do understand what the district is asking for seems like a lot, especially in tough economic times. I understand all too well how any adjustment in income can impact the running of a business or a personal budget. I feel, however, that the big picture is being missed. And I know it is hard to focus on that when personal finances are involved.

We have to understand that Humboldt Unified School District is the largest employer in Prescott Valley. When we talk about the economic health of our community we must factor in the wages and salaries of the largest employers. We are in a position right now where our largest employer has lost 44 percent of its teachers and one-third of its staff over the last three years because they are making less than they were five to seven years ago.

We are not just talking about not getting raises, but about taking home less pay because of higher insurance costs, paying for benefits that once were district-paid, and higher retirement costs, which is a mandatory payroll deduction.

When the employees of the largest employer are struggling to make ends meet they are not spending money in the community. They are not frequenting many businesses. They do not have discretionary income and therefore this already is impacting your local businesses in a significant way.

You are in a position to change this. Of the four areas outlined by HUSD where money will be spent, all of them will directly or indirectly create more jobs by bringing back positions that have been eliminated or will increase pay for staff. This is money what will walk into your businesses.

Further, when larger companies are looking at places to start up or relocate, they have to consider what they will be offering their employees. Will they be able to attract and retain employees?

Companies will tell you that one of the most significant factors in that decision is the local school system.

Humboldt is, by all measures, an excellent school system that has been improving over the last several years. As a community, we need for that to continue so we can attract new businesses to the area. This is why the Chamber of Commerce backs this override. They can see the long-term picture.

Economically, it makes things tighter, but the reality is that most of us can afford what is being temporarily asked for - especially if it pays off for us all in the long run.

I have a colleague who is a great teacher. She says it is "fiscally irresponsible" for her to continue to live and work here in the area. This hits home because almost every single teacher in this community has probably at times thought about leaving to another state, to an urban area, or leaving the profession because of the financial strain.

Not only are we making less, but we also are being asked to do more. One simple example of this is that class sizes are up. Additionally, we struggle because we know that we are stretched and we are not best serving the needs of every student, despite our best efforts and desires to do so.

We entered this profession for a reason and right now we can't even seem to achieve some of those goals because of the financial situation that districts across the state have been put in.

HUSD has indicated that this override money will go to four places: 1) improving school safety by increasing school resource officers and counselors, 2) attracting and retaining teachers, 3) reducing class sizes and 4) restoring programs that have been cut such as free full-day kindergarten, PE and the arts.

They also have stated that they will set up an oversight committee. Further HUSD has never asked for an override. Fifty percent of districts in the state are operating on overrides.

The state has cut education funding by nearly 22 percent, and they have completely eliminated several sources of funding. And please understand that school funding is complicated. Generally speaking, it is not one big pot that districts can pull from and spend in any way they want. Enrollment is down, but it is not down 22 percent.

I have watched HUSD try to deal with the declining funding for the last five to seven years without asking the local taxpayers directly for help. They have eliminated positions, they have cut important programs and they have had to make hard decisions that impacted the classrooms and our kids directly.

All of this money is going to kids and what impacts kids. Not a single dime is going to administration. We, as a community, are at a critical juncture. There are no more rabbits to be pulled from the hat.

I understand that this measure cannot be taken lightly. I understand that you have a decision to make. I just ask that you know the facts.

Ask questions. Vote with logic and reason and with some foresight and not with a knee-jerk reaction that we all feel when people ask for more of our hard earned money.

This is an investment - not only in our kids, but also in Prescott Valley and Dewey-Humboldt.

Tori Kendall is a teacher in the Humboldt Unified School District.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: @ DC

Another intellectually lazy response.

How do you know the money spent on those students didn't get them to the point to where they could even entertain the thought of going to college?

Chew on that, genius.

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: D C

The way I see it is this: If throwing money at education worked, the kids today would all be geniuses. But, since my sister teaches a remedial English class at a city college and she has 30 percent of the freshman class enrolled EVERY SEMESTER, I don't think the facts support the arguments for more of my money.

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: @ Gary Dean

What a silly, supercilious, and intellectually lazy response.

If that's how you want to approach and rationalize your opinion, it seems you learned very little in school after all.

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: Gary Dean

In my personal opinion if the students were learning what I learned when I was in school, then the extra money might be worth it. Unfortunately, from what I see, these kids today know less when they graduate than I did when I got out of the eighth grade. Sorry to say that. You have to start living within your budget. Ms. Kendall,you are a teacher, and you live on a fixed income. So do I, want to trade incomes?

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