When Morenci Superintendent of Schools Mike McAran tells people that the future existence of the Morenci school district is in jeopardy, no one believes him. They just don't think it will ever happen, but he's not so sure of that.
McAran gains a point for his pessimistic outlook after learning what state legislators recently approved for school funding: an increase of $20,000 on Morenci's $6.3 million budget. There's no end to demands from the state placed on local school districts, but the funding to accompany those demands fails to come through.
It's not just Morenci, McAran is quick to point out. Many districts in the state are teetering on the edge of insolvency while K-12 school money gets shifted to community colleges and universities—and support for charter schools and academies and middle college programs remains strong. It's as though the traditional public school is now a second-tier organization not deserving of the support it needs to survive.
Legislators espouse traditional values, McAran said, but if public school districts can't survive in small towns, then the communities won't survive, either. There's not much left, he said.
The way legislators seem to have pushed traditional K-12 education to the back burner leads to a very odd predicament. Are they hoping for public schools to fail through their demands to do more with less money?
"People in Morenci and a lot of other communities had better take stock of what's going on," McAran warns.
Ask your legislator about the wisdom of what's being done with public school funding.