Surprise! The President’s proposed Jobs Act includes $56.5 million for Tucson Unified School District (TUSD).(Pallack, 2011)
During a speech last Tuesday President Obama said, “The American Jobs Act will lead to new jobs for construction workers, jobs for teachers, jobs for veterans, jobs for young people, jobs for unemployed. It will provide tax relief for every worker and small business in America. And it will not add to the deficit. It will be paid for.” (Pallack, 2011)
Will the $56.5 million being offered to TUSD provide jobs?
TUSD Chief Financial Officer, Yousef Awwad says Jobs Act money must be spent on infrastructure and technology. (KGUN news, 9/18/11)
Head of TUSD teachers’ union, Frances Banales, insists Jobs Act money must be spent on salaries and benefits for TUSD’s teachers. (KGUN news, 9/18/11)
TUSD program manager for bonds and architecture, Marcus Jones, said, “We haven’t had any state (building renewal) funding for the last few years, so we have a lot of things that need to be addressed.” Jones said about $20 million a year is needed to keep the district’s schools in good shape. (Pallack, 2011)
Does TUSD need the money?
1) TUSD gets $53 million taxpayer dollars yearly for “desegregation” spent on salaries, technology, recruiting “minority” teachers…and school buses.
2) TUSD has unused property worth hundreds of millions. Two examples:
a) The empty Rogers Elementary, 6000 East 15th, plush neighborhood, east side.
b) 24 unused acres in the NW Tucson Mountain Foothills, surrounded by multi acre- zoned homes near Sunset and Camino De Oeste.
3) Enrollment in the Tucson Unified School District is down by more than 7,300 students—or 12 percent—since 2005 when the district educated about 60,000 students. Forecasts show the number of students falling from the current 52,000 or so to about 44,000 by the end of the decade. If the district continues to economically deteriorate, that number may drop below 40,000. The district has already closed nine schools. What will the loss of between 4,000 and 12,000 more students mean to TUSD? (Devine, 2011)
Since 2008, TUSD has resisted closing underenrolled schools (Sanchez, 2008) http://www.redorbit.com/news/education/1276768/tusd_hasnt_ruled_out_school_closures/index.html
Since 2008, TUSD has resisted cutting staff (Swedlund, 2008) http://www.redorbit.com/news/education/1354830/tusd_to_pay_new_chief_205k_reverse_job_cuts/index.html
Tucson’s growing school districts, Vail or Sunnyside, might ask: Why spend millions of taxpayer dollars in a Jobs Act that creates few jobs in a shrinking school district like TUSD already swimming in expensive assets and Federal money? Is this just Chicago-Style politics buying votes from the President’s base in Pima County, Arizona?
Who wins and who loses? We know taxpayers lose $56.5 million.
Devine, D. (2011). Tucson Weekly. TUSD officials prepare for a future with continuing decreases in student enrollment http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/transfer-out/Content?oid=3133467
Pallack, B. (2011). Arizona Daily Star. Obama jobs plan includes $56 Million for TUSD. http://azstarnet.com/news/local/education/college/article_b9e84e73-6255-5037-bf6f-73167e8c1f1a.html#ixzz1Y3gH3LGV