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Menzel: The SUSD advantage is Arizona’s leg up on economic development

By Dr. Scott Menzel | Point of View

There is no greater economic driver or workforce development strategy than public education. That recognition is what drove me early in my career and what continues to do so today.

Scottsdale Unified School District plays an important role in the success of our community, not just within the city of Scottsdale, but also across the broader economic region.

To assess SUSD’s economic impact, top economists at Arizona State University conducted a study on the true value of an SUSD education. The report in its entirety is available on our website HERE.

The ASU study yielded significant economic conclusions.

To start, SUSD graduates collectively earn more than $3.2 billion annually, contributing $228 million in state and local taxes in 2021 alone.

When considering the extent to which SUSD outperforms state averages, we can ascertain the value the district adds to the community by analyzing the difference between our actual performance and what would have been produced if we were only operating at the state average.

This is referred to as the “SUSD value proposition,” and it results in more than $500M per year in advanced wages.

While we reflect on and learn from the past, we also look to the future and examine ways to help the city and broader region grow as an economic engine. A core concept that allows businesses to succeed is to manage their organization on the principle of return on investment, or ROI.

For some context, SUSD’s spending on student development produces a 5:1 ROI for state taxpayers. In other words, for every $1 invested in educating an SUSD student, that student, during the course of their professional career, contributes $5 in taxes to the economy. This makes SUSD one of the best taxpayer investments in the state.

To be clear, these economic benefits are the result of living into our core values of Excellence, Empathy, Integrity, Trust, Inclusion, and Unity. Each person, regardless of background and circumstance of birth, deserves to be treated with love and respect, and supported in developing their full potential. Anything less dampens the main reason SUSD exists, which is to prepare students for their careers and success in life.

As I enter my fourth year at the helm of SUSD, I truly believe we have the ability to be a leader in education and continue to advance the academic performance and achievement of all students. This is a special place. Those who have lived here much longer than I know this to be true.

Our theme for the new school year is “Because, Kids!” It is a clear and important reminder of our why: we exist to ensure they succeed. Working together, we can accomplish amazing things. I invite our staff, parents, and the greater Scottsdale community to be an active part of helping us achieve our vision of becoming a world-class, future-focused district!

Editor’s note: Scott Menzel is superintendent of Scottsdale Unified School District.

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