It's not a bill

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on 9/15/2023

The psychology of money is interesting. When it comes to how we spend and what we spend it on, perspective matters.

Take for example your water bill. If your bill, like mine, has increased greatly over the past year, it hurts the bottom line.  There is less money to go to other things like food, entertainment, and savings.  But our family needs water, so we pay the bill.

Other expenses are much more optional.  Our family can skip a meal out, a trip to the ballpark, or a movie night. We don’t like to make those choices, but sometimes that is reality.

And then there are investments in our future: saving. We might be saving for retirement, saving for a home project, or just putting away money in case of an emergency. Sometimes we can save more than at other times depending on our current circumstances.

When it comes to paying for education, our perspective also matters. Do we see it as paying a bill; paying for something “extra” that can be cut if necessary; or are we making an investment for the future? I hope our perspective is that of an investment.

When we take money and put it toward our retirement account, we don’t see that as a bill we are paying. We will “get that money back” someday, and hopefully with a rate of return that actually increases our investment.

The same is true of our tax dollars being invested in education. As a community, our investment in kids produces a “rate of return” for our community. As we shared at the BOE meeting this week, by increasing our number of graduates and decreasing our number of dropouts, we create affluence in our community.  More graduates equal an expanded GDP for Wichita…which is good for everyone in the city.

We pay our bills, we pay for entertainment, and we make investments.  A better perspective of funding education, for students of WPS, is not to think of it as a “bill” we have to pay, but an investment in the next generation.

Our increase of graduates from 74% of students five years ago to 80.4% of students today benefits all of us.  We still have work to do; the impact could be even greater with an 85% or 90% graduation rate…but the investment that our community makes through tax dollars helps all of us. When our students do better, everyone in our community benefits.

Thank you to all of our taxpayers who make the investment in our students. We will continue to track outcomes, listen to the needs of our community, and respond appropriately to improve the overall success of each and every student in our district.