By Jim Nelson, Executive Director, AVID Center
Recently, as a district’s budget was being discussed during a school board meeting, the subject of AVID came up to consider as part of a budget reduction plan. The superintendent quickly silenced any talk of eliminating AVID and said, “AVID is not on the table. It is part of this district’s DNA.”
School boards and district administrators across the country are struggling with budgets that are being cut … the impact of an economic downturn is typically late in hitting public schools, and so this year, as talk of economic recovery is on the minds of many, most districts are still bracing for fewer dollars to do an increasingly more difficult job.
As you can imagine, districts examine multiple options to reduce budgets, from trimming the teaching staff to eliminating programs. I have been asked, especially during this time of year when budgets are scrutinized and scraped, if we are concerned about AVID being cut.
Yes, and no.
I am never offended or taken off guard when this question arises, because, as a former superintendent, I know that one of the most difficult responsibilities is making sure that finite dollars are being spent to make the greatest impact. And, answering that question gives me the opportunity to ask about their AVID implementation and point out the numerous students success stories that exist because of AVID.
But, yes, I am concerned for any district that would cut AVID because I know there will be students who will miss the opportunity to change their future. I am also concerned for the teachers who have come to rely on AVID both as a support to them and a pathway to teaching excellence. It is incumbent on us to provide implementation support that will assure the AVID College Readiness System is being implemented with fidelity. When that occurs, districts and schools more than get their money’s worth. And for the student, the investment is more than worth it. Many studies have shown that on average, a person completing postsecondary education earns about $1,000,000 more over their lifetime than those who did not. Time after time, I’ve seen classes and entire campuses transformed by the efforts of AVID-trained educators, from teachers to counselors to administrators. Its absence or discontinuance will quickly affect students whose very lives and certainly their life’s paths are altered positively by AVID. If anything, in tough budget times, AVID’s value is even greater.
Just this week, another superintendent friend confirmed this with me. He is in Texas, which is undergoing a terrible budget crisis. We were attending a conference in which several very effective programs were being highlighted. One in particular seemed to be very effective in improving math performance. He stopped me and said that he’d love to have that program, but was certainly not going to diminish his AVID program to buy it. He said, “I see every day the impact AVID has on our students, and we will not allow that to be harmed.” Enough said.