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"Mike Hutchinson is executive vice president of the PHX East Valley Partnership. He is also the co-chair of Yes for Mesa Schools... Erin Eccleston She is the vice president of community engagement with Expect More Arizona"

If you earned a master’s degree and had decades of experience in your chosen field, what would you expect to earn? 

Certainly, you’d expect more than the $50,000 salary of the teacher we spoke with recently.

It should come as no surprise to learn that educators in our state are woefully underpaid, earning about $45,000 per year, which is far below the national median. But teachers aren’t all that are lacking in our school systems.

That’s why six school districts in our community have bonds or overrides on the ballot this fall. 

Chandler, Gilbert, Higley, Mesa and Queen Creek Unified, along with Tempe Elementary School Districts are all depending on the outcome of November’s vote.

There are great things happening in our schools already.

The East Valley Institute of Technology is using hands-on learning to prepare students for in-demand careers. A partnership between the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce and local manufacturers is giving area students an inside look at the career possibilities available in the industry. 

Specialty early learning programs are helping young students in Higley build a strong pathway from preschool to high school. 

Unfortunately, many of these programs will not continue or expand to reach more youth without the dollars that come from bonds and overrides. 

For instance, Higley Unified has slated override funds to maintain small class sizes and continue offering art programs, along with continuing competitive teacher and staff pay, among other things.

Because its override was originally approved in 2015, a yes vote will mean a continuation of the override and no new taxes for homeowners and businesses.

In Chandler Unified, proposed bond dollars would help offset $127 million in lost state funding. If passed, the bond would fund the building of two new schools, as well as security improvements at existing locations and other classroom and technology improvements.

The Gilbert Public Schools override will be used in part to improve social and emotional student support, in addition to attracting and retaining high-quality educators.

Tempe Elementary School District is asking voters to continue both of their existing overrides. In part, the funds raised will continue the district’s strong Pre-K through 8th grade music program, provide counselors for every school, and help maintain smaller class sizes in the early grades.

A yes vote is a vote for our community. After all, it’s to everyone’s benefit to establish a strong educational continuum.

 Intel, Boeing and other firms will need a stream of qualified employees. If we want to continue attracting good-paying jobs, we will need the people to staff them. 

Voters today were students once upon a time and the voters of the past funded our education. Now it’s our turn to ensure funding for the youth in our community. 

Mike Hutchinson is executive vice president of the PHX East Valley Partnership. He is also the co-chair of Yes for Mesa Schools and the spouse of a Mesa school board member. Erin Eccleston She is the vice president of community engagement with Expect More Arizona, a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan education advocacy organization. Information: ExpectMoreArizona.org/vote.

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