Passing Bonds: A Possible Solution for Funding Public Schools
Most people are aware that American public schools are in need of additional funding. Many citizens, just out of the goodness of their hearts, want a solution for this problem. However, most of these people also tend to think that this problem is out of their hands, and that individually, they can’t make much of a difference. Bond elections give every registered voter the opportunity to assist in funding their local public schools. “School override elections generate additional tax revenue to fund local school districts. The funds augment what the state provides, and are often targeted for teacher salaries, benefits, supplies, art, music, and other operations” (Simplot 2015). Passing local bonds may not be the “cure all” answer to solving public school issues, but doing this can be beneficial to help schools and their communities in general. Passing local bonds can provide a solution for funding to increase in public schools. That being said, bond elections can have a positive effect for the public schools, the students who attend these schools, as well as the communities these schools are a part of.
These days, public schools are facing several problems. Some of these problems include; lack of qualified educators, increasing emphasis on standardized tests, cutbacks in extracurricular activities, etc. (Howell 2016). It is plain to see that the insufficient funding schools are receiving is at the core of these problems (Mackenzie 2003). Bond elections provide a way for schools to acquire more money. There are several different types of bonds, and bonds that can be used for many different things, such as construction and reconstruction of schools, technological advancements, maintaining teachers’ salaries, and so forth (Schmidt 2014). Many voters are hesitant to vote in favor of school bonds because they question what the bonds are actually used for. This is understandable, however, not only are school districts obligated to inform the public before the election on what the bonds will be used for, but it is mandatory that they inform the public afterwards about what the money was actually spent on. Karen Schmidt, from the Arizona Republic, states the fact that “state law requires that school districts release annual financial reports on how they’ve spent taxpayer money” (Schmidt 2013). This should give voters added confidence that they are not investing in an unworthy cause. In 2007, a bond was approved for Gilbert, AZ Public Schools that was up to $82 million. Schmidt confirmed what the spending goals of the Gilbert School District were, and what the money was actually spent on. Their goals were to “replace outdated student computer labs and network equipment; add new computers for instructional areas that currently lacked equipment; and increase student access to resources such as the Internet and electronic curriculum” (Schmidt 2013). Schmidt later gave the answer to what the district actually had done with the money within the first few years of the bond passing: “The district: upgraded all computers and wiring at 40 schools, bought curriculum software, upgraded to Windows7, bought emergency-messaging software, hosted the district website, and bought a new management system” (Schmidt 2013). The Gilbert School District is just one of many that have benefited greatly from the passing of bonds. The lack of confidence registered voters may have toward their school districts may be argued, still, districts have to ask voters to look at what good can come from approved bonds. Not only does it benefit school districts, but also the individual students who attend these schools in these districts.
Naturally, citizens, especially those who do not have much interaction with local, public schools, may look at the American School Systems with a narrow vision, focusing only on what they are not doing right. People with these opinions often disregarded public schools for what they actually do, and how important they really are (Porter 2015). The fact that there are individual students, the key to America’s future, attending these public schools is too often overlooked. A poll was done by William Bushaw, executive director of PDK International, and Shane Lopez, a senior scientist in residence, comparing several different issues concerning American School Systems and how the public views them. In interviewing parents of school aged children, they found that “about one of five say high school graduates are prepared for the workplace. And one-third believe high school graduates are ready for college” (Bushaw, Lopez 2012). It is understood that these numbers could be worse, but it it also obvious that there is much room for improvement. If students today are the future of America, these numbers predict that the American future is not looking too bright. It is not only important for students to receive the best education possible, but it is just as important, if not more, that the students feel they are worthy of the best education possible. When a local bond passes for the school a student attends, they not only feel more confident in their school, but confidence increases in themselves as well. Cathryn Creno, from the Arizona Republic, did an interview with Derek Hall, who was at the time a senior at Dobson High School. Derek was serving on a committee of Mesa Public Schools administrators, teachers, students, parents and community members who were trying to get a local bond passed (Creno 2012). Hall explained that he was “surprised and ecstatic” when he was asked to be on the committee (Creno 2012). Hall was honored that he was given the opportunity to serve his school in this way. Later in the interview, Hall says that with the money from the bond, he would like to see a “much more accessible campus for his peers” (Creno 2012). Derek Hall is one student, in many, who is concerned for not only their own education experiences, but their peers as well. It would really make a difference if each citizen was similarly concerned for these students, and simply were open to supporting local bonds when needed. Doing so could go a long way to help secure the future of America.
If schools and students benefitting aren’t enough, consider communities where the public schools are located, they can also benefit when local bonds are approved. In communities where bond elections are approved, confidence people have in that particular school district is demonstrated. If schools are funded a higher amount of money, their performance rate improves (Mackenzie 2003). Better schools attract additional people to their communities, including families and potential educators, and after a while the entire community is benefited. John Mackenzie, a member of the Christina School District (DE) Board of Education, said “The communities with good schools will have significantly higher property values than the communities with bad schools. Thus good schools benefit homeowners without children too” (Mackenzie 2003). Mackenzie is not the only one who sees the wide variety of advantages that come from increased funding for schools. Tom Simplot, president and CEO of the Arizona Multi-housing Association, also addressed the relation between school bonds and local communities. He said, “These elections tend to draw only very committed voters and can be decided by a small number of votes. Some people think that if they live in an apartment, or they don’t have children, these elections don’t affect them. Of course, this isn’t the case. Schools, especially good schools, affect everyone in the neighborhood. They are points of pride and can attract investment to an area” (Simplot 2015). Good citizens want what is best for the general public, and often wonder in what ways they can be of better service to their communities, but a simple vote can go a long way.
Voting in favor of local bonds for public schools may seem risky, but when looking at the long term effects of approved bonds, voters will realize that the many benefits far outweigh the potential risks. It is a small investment compared to what schools, students, and communities will gain from the additional money. The future of America is in the hands of the students attending these public schools. Registered voters can help determine how successful they will be by simply being open to supporting bond elections on local levels.
Bushaw, W. J., & Lopez, S. J. (2012, September). Public education in the United States: A nation divided. Kappan. Retrieved from http://pdkintl.org/wp- content/blogs.dir/5/files/2012-Gallup-poll-full-report.pdf
Creno, C. (2012, Jun 06). Student-advocate makes pitch for school bond. Arizona Republic. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu:2443/login?url=http://ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu:2105/docview/1027057128?accountid=227
Howell, Z (2016, August 25). “Opting out” of Standardized Testing. Retrieved from http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2016/aug/25/opting-out-standardized-testing/
Mackenzie, J. (2003). Public School Funding and Performance. Retrieved from
Porter, E. (2015, November 4). “America’s Students Are Lagging. Maybe It’s Not the Schools.” The New York Times.
Schmidt, K. (2013, Nov 01). Gilbert public schools issues report on bond and override spending. Arizona Republic Retrieved from https://ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu:2443/loginurl=http://ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu:2105/docview/1477775564?accountid=227
Simplot, T. (2015, Nov 01). Your vote counts in both school and bond elections. Arizona Republic Retrieved from https://ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu:2443/login?url=http://ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu:2105/docview/1728530459?accountid=227