If businesses expect high school graduates to come to them as trainable employees, then professionals must give some time and expertise to the public school system, two Utah County school district superintendents said.

"You either pay for education now, or repay later to train them," said Alpine School District Superintendent Steven Baugh.Jim Bergera, Provo School District superintendent, echoed those thoughts. He said, "Education is the engine that drives the whole economy. It determines the future. The question of the future is, `How do we want to arrive and what can we as a community do about it?' "

Both superintendents spoke recently at the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting about business and education partnerships.

Schools must prepare kids for modern age technology because even the least skilled jobs will require computing skills, Baugh said. Nearly all jobs in the future will have a technical base.

"We are increasingly aware that our education has to be for the future. Not only must we teach them to learn how to learn, but it is necessary to teach them how to think, learn and adjust to change."

Baugh said schools are criticized that they are not teaching students fast enough about the latest technology, but there is no way to keep up with it if businesses don't participate.

Contributing to education doesn't necessarily call for monetary means, Baugh said. Professionals can tutor students, discuss career education, help teachers develop curriculum or contribute excess inventory.

Bergera agreed. "While I think we are doing quite well academically, I recognize the need to develop partnership organizations. The business/education partnership is more critical today than it's ever been."

He said Provo schools are looking to expand internships for students to give them practical experiences in the business world. About 70 students are presently getting hands-on experience that is essential to making wise career decisions.

"We are ready to expand that into all aspects of the business community," Bergera said.

The district has put together a group from the business community for input into the curriculum and what ought to be incorporated.

"We need a higher order of thinking to reach problems and solutions," Bergera said.

Centers of computer assisted instruction are also needed in schools to have a more flexible and tremendous affect on teaching and learning, he said.