The Cost of ‘Investment in’ Education
By Bill Furlong, Assistant Superintendent
I have had many conversations over the years with people who ask about our school budget and talk about the “cost of education”. They inquire about how much we spend on certain parts of our budget. They ask about teacher salaries, athletics, employee benefits and other expenditures we make. I welcome these conversations since they give me an opportunity to better explain our costs and what we do to manage them. However, I would argue that we do not “spend” on education, but rather invest in education. Expenditures do not have a future value. But an investment will create a future value that should far exceed the amount of the original investment. The money that we invest in public education creates the potential for a significant return on that investment for that individual and the community they live in. If upon graduation, a student is hired for a job at minimum wage and never receives a pay raise, that former student will still earn back the cost of their K-12 education within 9 years. If that student goes on to college and earns a degree that enables a $50,000 annual salary, then the payback period drops to under 3 years.
While the return on this investment is much harder to calculate or quantify, I will let you be the judge. Did your public school education open the door to college or employment which allowed you to create an earning potential that you would not have had if no public education system existed? The public education that we received was paid for by the taxpayers of that era and we benefited from their investment in our public education.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of giving the class of 1962 a tour of the High School as part of their class reunion activities. In hearing them talk about their lives and careers I was struck by how successful they were and about how they viewed Cazenovia Central. They were proud of the Blue Ribbon award we just received. They were proud of the academic and extracurricular programs that we now offer. And they were proud to be Cazenovia graduates. It is difficult to measure the return on investment that education can create. But I believe that the class of 2013 can return in 50 years, with the same pride and success as the class of ‘62, and show that our investment in them was well worth it.