The $86 million could finally bring all of the district’s schools up to snuff
For two years parents, teachers, administrators and board members of the Roaring Fork School District have hemmed and hawed over ways to improve teacher retention, test scores and school facilities.After much review and community discussion, they devised a plan – an $86 million plan – to bring all schools in the district up to snuff.Teacher retention at Carbondale Elementary has been shaky. In 2000-01, 13 teachers left the school; in 2001-02, 12 left; and in 2002-03, 13 left, according to a detailed report Re-1 released july 1. The numbers don’t tell the entire story. Several of the teachers who left the school transferred to other schools in the district, some retired, and some left the area. Last year, six of the 13 teachers who left went to other schools in Re-1.A school with historically low test scores can create low morale among staff, which can cause them to leave, said Fred Wall, superintendent of Re-1.Although new facilities will not solve all of Carbondale’s issues, it’s a step in the right direction, Wall said.Teacher retention is a problem in Carbondale, and the bond doesn’t guarantee the problem will be solved, but it’s a start, said Bill Lamont, a member of Advocates for Carbondale Education, a parent-directed group organized to look after education in Carbondale schools.After multiple discussions with the school board, ACE finally decided to endorse the bond because the school district made a considerable effort to address concerns ACE had, including teacher retention and facility updates, according to an ACE press release.Not all ACE members agree with the group’s decision to support the bond.Artie Rothman is a very active ACE member. But he does not support the bond because one of the reasons for updating Carbondale – new facilities will increase teacher retention – is misleading because facilities and test scores are not the reason teachers leave Re-1.”The district says affordable housing and performance are the main reasons teachers leave Carbondale,” Rothman said. “Teachers tell us differently. Many didn’t see affordable housing and the conditions of the schools as a reason to leave. They were treated with disrespect.”ACE’s endorsement comes a little later than other groups throughout the valley. Citizens for Investing in Roaring Fork School District Kids is a three-tiered community group from Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood that’s promoting the bond.”The quality of public schools is a reflection of the community,” according to Citizens’ Web site. “After 20 years of just keeping up with growth, the time has come to update and upgrade every school building in the Roaring Fork School District. A great community deserves great schools.”The community deserves great schools, but the district is using schools that are in terrible condition – such as Carbondale Middle School – as leverage to get votes for the bond, Rothman said.”It’s appalling that they haven’t fixed the ceiling at Carbondale Middle School yet,” Rothman said. “They’re using the falling ceiling as leverage to get money. They’re trying to manage voter sympathies.”The district states that, unlike the bond passed in 1993 to keep up with rapid growth, the 2004 bond will update old facilities for at least 40-50 years.”Whether or not you have kids in the school system there is a need,” said Bob Johnson, a parent at Basalt Elementary. “This is more than an education issue, it’s a community opportunity.””Whether or not you have kids in the school system there is a need,” said Bob Johnson, a parent at Basalt Elementary. “This is more than an education issue, it’s a community opportunity.”
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