Dr. Terry Lovell, a business teacher and economist from Yavapai College, made a 35 minute presentation to the Chino Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) School Board last night, stressing one resounding theme: There is no help coming from the Federal Government or the Arizona State government, both of which are struggling to manage large deficits and debt. If Chino Valley needs additional funds to provide a quality education, they must find it within their own community.
After listening to all the presentations, the Board voted unanimously to direct staff to continue their research and information gathering in order for a final vote on an override bond election at another CVUSD special meeting to be held on December 7.
Travis Bard, the President of the Board explained at the beginning of the evening why CVUSD called this special meeting, "We hope that we've shown you that we do what we can to collect and gather information from multiple sources, so that we make a well-informed, reasonable and practical decision. As you will see on the agenda this evening, we are going to be considering scheduling an M&O or Maintenance and Operations override bond election. The reason for that being continued pressure on school funding from the State budget. We are receiving less and less money and we are receiving notification every day or every week that further cuts are coming. In doing that, we look at not only ways that we can work within our budget to operate more efficiently, but we also look at ways that we can take matters into our own hands and do whatever we can locally to solve some of those issues."
Bard said that he had asked Dr. Lovell to speak to them about economic conditions they are facing now that not only led to this situation, but what can be expected in the future. Bard noted the importance of understanding these facts, not only because of the effect on the local schools, but on how it will affect taxes for the local community.
Lovell stated at the beginning that his role was to be a "fair witness", ie: one who just presents the numbers. But, he also promised to discuss the strategies of how Yavapai College managed to pass their bond - the largest ever passed by a rural community college.
Lovell may have described himself as a "fair witness" but that certainly did not mean the numbers he reported were sunny and cheery. From an estimated 11+% unemployment in Yavapai County, to the actual number of those who are not just unemployed, but also taking into account underemployed and longterm discouraged workers to a rate of greater than 20%, Lovell stated that many jobs are being lost overseas; specifically noting that the last two recoveries have been termed "jobless" recoveries.
Lovell stated, "There's a significant problem at the federal level, and a significant problem at the state level. It's going to take 3-5 years to get the state straightened out, and I don't know if we're ever going to get the federal situation straightened out."
Lovell reported that research by Harvard Economists Robert J. Barro and Charles J. Redlick indicates that the best way to grow out of a sluggish economy is to cut taxes and reduce spending. "Local school boards don't have that ability," Lovell said. "It would be irresponsible. The Town of Chino Valley, or Yavapai County or the State of Arizona might be able to do something, but the school district just can't."
"What does this leave us as possibilities for the Chino Valley School District? First of all, There isn't any help coming from any where else. That's the very first thing I want to say to you about the situation. The Feds aren't going to ride in and help you, forget about the $787 billion in stimulus money, forget about any of that stuff. You might be able to get some of it, but it's very, very doubtful that any white horse knight is riding in here to save anybody from the state or the fed. You're going to have to fix this on your own."
Some of the ideas that Lovell put forth included:
- Linked prosperity
- Pool of common resources
- We are all going up or down TOGETHER
- Win/Win government /business strategy
- The pay-off is long-term, not short term
- You must have a strategy in place
Lovell also stressed the longterm payoffs for investing in education, noting that if you drop out of high school, you're much more likely to be in the Criminal Justice system, and to use methamphetamine. "If you want to keep people off drugs, you have to have extra curricular activities; you have to have football, you have to have wrestling, you have to have a debate team and a band. That pays for itself in lower crime rates. You don't see it immediately, it's hard to do the statistical model to show it, but if you've got programs at the high school from 3-6 pm five nights a week, the crime rate's lower. You'll have to make the argument to the taxpayers about how their property is going to be safer, their person is going to be safer and their community is going to be better if you make this investment."
Tomorrow: Is there a Need? Presentations From CV District Personnel