Post Independent opinion: Mixed support for mill levy highlights need for district transparency |

Post Independent opinion: Mixed support for mill levy highlights need for district transparency

On Election Day last week, voters passed the Roaring Fork School District Re-1’s $4.8 million mill levy override.

That’s more of an accomplishment than it may seem. In Colorado, 18 of 23 overrides failed to pass, including those proposed for Garfield School District Re-2 and Garfield County School District 16.

Then again, Re-1 has the distinction of never having seen one of its tax questions go down. Clearly people in the district value their schools and are committed to seeing children succeed.

But it’s interesting to note that the support was not districtwide.

While Carbondale voters don’t seem spooked by taxes – approving the mill levy 60 percent to 40 percent and passing a fire district mill levy – voters in Glenwood Springs opposed the school mill levy 53 percent to 47 percent.

Perhaps Glenwood Springs residents still have a bad taste in their mouth over the firing of Glenwood Springs Elementary School principal Sonya Hemmen last spring.

While mill levy supporters – including Hemmen herself – argued that voters shouldn’t punish students by voting down the mill levy just because they’re unhappy with the school board, the school board always needs to be aware of the possible collateral effects of its actions on the students.

With that in mind, we encourage the incoming board members to make good on their promises of making the board’s actions and policies open and transparent.

Three new members are being sworn in today. We welcome and congratulate Terry Lott Richardson, Matt Hamilton and Daniel Biggs, who all made campaign pledges to listen to the community and to teachers, students and parents.

Their listening should include understanding the reluctance Glenwood Springs area voters had for the mill levy override.

The reluctance could simply be a reflection of voters’ concerns about the speed of the economic recovery. Anyone asking for a tax increase this year knew it would be a hard sell. And while the decision to ask wasn’t made lightly, we can only assume that the decision to vote “no” wasn’t made lightly, either.

But as it turned out, Re-1 is in a unique position among area school districts and will be getting the money it requested. It is now incumbent upon the district to show voters that their money is being wisely spent. Biggs has pledged to be a watchdog over these expenditures. We all should be.

With its mill levy passed, Re-1 can breathe a sigh of relief and get on with the business of educating our children. We hope that in the future, the residents of Glenwood Springs will have reason to give the district their full support.

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