Re-1 mill levy override is a wise investment that will benefit all
Debbie Bruell, Bob Johnson, Bill Lamont and Richard Stettner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
We are very fortunate to have the high quality schools that we currently have in our communities:
• We have very high-caliber, very committed teachers.
• The achievement scores of our native English-speaking students rank right up there with Cherry Creek and other top districts in the state.
• We have some very effective, innovative programs, such as the Pre-Collegiate Program, which graduates almost 100 percent of its students, about 97 percent of which go on to college.
The fact that our students are making such great progress at the same time that per pupil spending and teacher salaries have been decreasing (when adjusted for inflation) is all the more impressive. It’s a testament to the caliber of our teachers and the progress we’ve made in terms of understanding how to effectively teach our children.
It is these very accomplishments we are at risk of losing if 3E doesn’t pass.
Question 3E is not about expanding the district’s budget. It’s about backfilling state funding cuts in order to help us maintain our already minimal budget.
We already have science classes that are too large to provide the kinds of hands-on experiences we want for our students. We already have teachers who have less time for lesson-planning because they’ve taken on cleaning duties. We already have boilers in desperate need of maintenance so that we don’t end up having to completely replace them.
We already have teachers’ salaries at such a low level that we’re at risk of losing our experienced staff to neighboring districts. Applicants for teaching positions in our district are already turning down interviews when they learn what our district’s salary schedule is and that their salary won’t reflect their level of experience because salaries have been frozen since 2008.
Given our already minimal budget and state forecasts of even more budget cuts, we are seeking a local solution to this budget crisis. We are asking local voters for local funds that will be under our local control.
Our decision to ask local voters for a mill levy override was not an easy one. We were well aware that this an extremely difficult time to ask voters for a mill levy override.
We would not have voted unanimously to put 3E on the ballot if we had any doubt about the financial stewardship of the district. Shannon Pelland is a meticulously responsible financial director. Audit after audit has found Ms. Pelland to be one of the best school finance directors in the state.
We would not have voted to put 3E on the ballot if we had any doubt about the budget cutting processes of recent years. Administrators and teachers made grueling discussions about what would be the least damaging things to cut from our schools. Many of the critical things they were desperately trying not to cut are now the only things left on the chopping block.
We have no doubt about our district’s ability to balance its budget. But balancing our budget at the current level of funding will come at the cost of reducing the quality of our schools.
Given the solid financial ground on which our district operates, the thoughtful budget-cutting processes of recent years, and the fact that future cuts will reduce the quality of our schools, we see a mill levy override as a fiscally responsible next step.
The mill levy override is not about asking people for a hand-out. It’s about asking people to make a wise investment in their children and their community – an investment from which we all will reap the benefits:
• Families and businesses want to locate in areas with strong school systems.
• Property values are enhanced by quality schools.
• Strong schools are needed in order to graduate responsible, productive citizens into our communities.
Investing in our schools is about investing in our future.
The positive impact of 3E will be felt for years to come. Without 3E we cannot focus on continuous improvement, or things we want to change, or even celebrate successes. Instead, we will be focused on budget cuts and where they will hurt the least.
We need to invest in our schools for the long haul, and help our teachers prepare our children for jobs and a world that will be dramatically different than today.
Please vote yes on 3E.
Debbie Bruell, Bob Johnson, Bill Lamont and Richard Stettner are members of the Roaring Fork Re-1 School Board.
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