Niesl: Why I support AJUSD bonds, override

I am a retired Gold Canyon resident with no kids or grandkids in the Apache Junction Unified School District. I’m enthusiastically in favor of the AJUSD bond/override. I have heard some Apache Junction and Gold Canyon residents are not in favor for various reasons. This is my personal perspective on it.  

Pamela Niesl

Some residents say that the schools are fine the way they are and talk about how it was when they were in school (e.g. walked five miles to school, had no air conditioning). Bottom line for me is I want kids to have it better than I did. I don’t feel it beneficial to “toughen up” kids by having poorly functioning air conditioning, broken tiles or broken buses. If our kids have a quality school environment, it shows that we as a community care about them. 

Some residents say it isn’t necessary to provide money for items like arts/band equipment, extra-curricular activities and to maintain a running track, as is planned with the override. Using the running track as an example, I think that running track disrepair is not only a safety issue, but know that because of it, other school track teams won’t compete here. This means AJUSD kids have one less activity to be involved in, in a rural area that doesn’t have a lot for kids to do in the first place. Not only is it a loss for kids involved in track, but for kids that watch the events, and for school pride. Kids can easily get involved in many bad activities if we don’t do what we can to provide arts, music, and sports activities. 

Some residents don’t think it’s necessary to spend money updating curriculum/books, as is planned with the override. According to educational research, in order to keep up with education standards schools should replace curriculum materials every seven years. Many subject-specific curriculum materials were obtained from 2000 to 2008. We cannot expect teachers/kids to be successful on the standardized tests used to determine student/school performance if we tie their hands with textbooks that don’t enable them to be successful.  

Some retirees voice concern that they are on a fixed income and no longer have kids so they shouldn’t be expected to pay increased taxes for school improvements. As a retiree, I have a fixed income as well. However, I think all of us baby boomers knew going in that it was not going to be easy retiring without back-up savings. I accept that my cost of living includes taxes for schools, infrastructure, social services etc., regardless if I work or retire. I also keep in mind that retirees paid taxes to support the schools my sons attended when they were in young. 

One last thing that I keep in mind. Not only has the system been doing its best to function without bond/override money for over 10 years, but the state extensively reduced funding during the recession and has never returned it to pre-recession levels. Ultimately, even if I did not give a darn about the kids, I believe that if I don’t invest in them, I’ll be paying in other ways in the future – financial assistance, behavioral health issues, crime and poor economy.  

Pamela Niesl
Gold Canyon

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