I am writing to plead with the Roaring Fork community to vote yes on 3E, the Vote Yes for our Kids campaign.
As a parent of a preschooler and a toddler, I am deeply concerned and outraged at the educational cuts that are currently affecting our local schools and in turn our community.
How do we expect to continue to grow and enrich this deeply special valley when educational budget cuts continue to increase? From staff cutbacks, increased class sizes and the inability to update and replace textbooks, how can this community expect its future generations to prosper and thrive?
As a parent, this issue is very personal for me. Parents want to know that their children are receiving the best quality education that is available to them, so for me to make this small financial sacrifice is not even a hesitation.
I feel that the challenge lies in making community members who don’t have children, or whose children are already gown and educated, understand that this does affect them as well.
A strong, safe, educated community is what we as Roaring Fork citizens should be striving for. Investment in future generations is so important to the overall well-being of this enchanting place we call home. It’s our duty as citizens of this great country to make sacrifices for the overall good of the country and its people. This is one small way we can make a difference in our community and for our country as a whole to grow and strengthen. Show you care and vote yes on 3E.
I am writing to urge my friends and neighbors to support ballot initiative 3E, the Roaring Fork School District mill levy override this coming November. As this is a mail-in ballot election, it is imperative that you make sure that you receive your ballot. Otherwise, you and your children will have no voice in this important issue.
Without this mill levy override there will be no new computers in an era when technology becomes outdated every two years; bands, sports and maybe even the arts will become the province of those who can afford to pay for it out of their own pockets; and the one nurse left in the entire school district – well, too bad if your kid’s sick.
Transportation? Better get a minivan for the neighborhood carpool. Getting the attention of a teacher? Well, if (and this is a big if) we can attract quality teachers for the pittance Re-1 can afford to pay them, our children may have to wait until the other 26 kids ask their questions first. Re-1 hasn’t had new textbooks in three years, so don’t count on any new ones. I could go on and on, but I’m boring you already.
Look, I grew up in a school district with 30 kids in a class. I understand the whole argument that “this state spends less and has higher scores.” It’s all irrelevant. Teachers can’t treat kids like they treated a class full of unruly 7-year-olds in the early ’70s – and if they could, would we want our kids to go back to Mrs. Meanie and the naughty corner?
Does North Dakota spend less per pupil on education than Colorado? Yes, it does, but then again the state’s cost of living is 25 percent less than in Colorado, so their teachers can afford to live on lower salaries.
So please vote yes on 3E. Help our communities and help our schools. Support our children – even if you don’t have any. After all, my children are eventually going to be the ones supporting you. And without an education, well, that’s scarier than extra property taxes.
Proponents of the mill levy override claim it’s about the kids. Not so.
I am a retired Re-1 employee and was the district custodial manager in 1994 when the voters approved a mill levy override. The teachers immediately voted themselves a 10 percent cost-of-living salary increase and then reworked their salary schedule to increase their future salaries based on longevity and continuing professional education.
The conditions in 1994, however, were far different than they are today. In 1994 we had just come out of the mild recession of 1991-92, our economy was growing at a robust 5 to 6 percent, and we were entering into an era of economic expansion that would last for the next 14 years.
Today we are trying to recover from the deep recession of 2007-09. The current recovery has been extremely weak and many economic indicators are pointing to a double-dip recession in 2012. No reputable economist would advocate for tax increases in these circumstances.
Our son’s situation serves as an example of what is so common in today’s economy. He is an engineer with a structural engineering firm. In 2008, the company discontinued giving bonuses to their employees. This amounted to a 16 percent decrease in his pay. Eight months ago all company employees were required to take a 15 percent decrease in pay. Between bonus elimination and salary decrease, his income has been reduced by 31 percent. And he’s one of the lucky ones. During 2009 and 2010, more than half of his company’s employees were laid off.
It is preposterous that, in these hard times, teachers would be seeking salary increases by taking money from their neighbors and fellow citizens who are struggling to make ends meet.
Furthermore, for teachers to try to take resources away from seniors on fixed incomes, from folks like our son who have suffered substantial decreases in income, or from folks who have lost their jobs altogether, is both mean-spirited and selfish.
Instead of seeking pay increases, teachers should volunteer to take pay cuts to free up funds “for the kids.”
Vote no on 3E.
There have been many letters recently concerning the proposed increase in the mill levy for the Re-1 school district, better known as ballot issue 3E in the upcoming Nov. 1 election. But interestingly, very little has been said about Proposition 103.
Proposition 103 would increase sales tax by 3.5 percent and state income taxes by an unbelievable 8 percent. These funds would be used to support public education in the state.
But wait, isn’t that what the 3E issue is for? To raise funds for our public schools here in the valley?
Let’s add this all up. An increase in property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes during the worst recession (or depression, depending on your point of view) in modern history. With unemployment at over 9 percent nationwide, even our greedy federal government is finding it difficult to tax us more during these tough times.
Let me share with you some real numbers. I own commercial property in Glenwood Springs. I live in rural Garfield County in the Carbondale Fire District. Did I mention that the fire district wants a mill levy increase of about 30 percent?
Anyway, in 2011 the share of taxes paid to Re-1 for my commercial property tax and residential tax was $9,457 plus $475 to Carbondale Fire District. And just when it looked like I might get some relief next year from this outrageous tax burden, the school district and the fire district have their hands out wanting even more.
Some facts; in the 1960s as a nation we spent about $2,500 per public school student annually; In 2009 we spent about $12,500 per student annually, and yet student test scores have not improved and in many cases have declined.
Are we getting what we pay for here? Doesn’t look like it to me. Therefore, I will not be voting for 3E or Proposition 103.
Did I mention that I am 70 years old and have never had nor ever will have a child in this school system?
Strong public school education has for generations been a foundation of the strength of our nation, preparing our youth to prosper as world challenges present themselves.
Effective education needs excellent committed teachers, teachers who are themselves enabled to improve their effectiveness by learning from their own experience. Schools need principals who can discover and motivate those teachers. Committed teachers need adequate pay and time outside the classroom to develop their teaching practices.
Current budgets do not satisfy needs found by educators and district boards. Limitations imposed by Colorado’s Constitution in times of prosperity have imposed limitations that have become devastating in these sad economic times.
Despite conscientious cutting and innovative restructuring, educators are no longer able to preserve the quality of public school education for coming years. Programs are being eliminated. Nationally, we are falling behind other countries in many important criteria. Because of once wise-appearing constitutional limitations, these deficits are particularly damaging in Colorado.
I hope all my neighbors will vote yes on proposal 3E on the ballot Nov. 1.
Reduced property assessments and levy adjustments mean that, compared to prior years, tax costs of this measure to property owners will likely not be noticeable. Without it, program deficiencies will compound annually. All of us will be the losers.
Please vote yes on 3E.
For the past nine years I have worked toward making positive changes in the Roaring Fork School District. As a parent volunteer, grant writer and school board member, my perspective and vision have remained the same:
• Public schools are the heart of every community and the key to our nation’s future.
• Our children and our communities are incredibly fortunate to have the outstanding teachers and outstanding schools that we have here in the Roaring Fork School District.
• There are numerous ways we could be drawing on our district’s strengths to provide an even better education for our children.
This letter is from my personal perspective. I am not writing on behalf of the Roaring Fork School Board.
It is for these same reasons that I urge everyone to vote yes on 3E. Our schools need adequate funding in order to maintain the high quality of education we provide and to make our schools even stronger.
Many people are questioning how this funding issue relates to other issues in our district. As a school board member, I often hear from community members who have ideas for improving our district. I am a firm believer in the continuous need to look critically and thoughtfully at how our schools are operating, and find ways to do even better.
I encourage everyone to voice their ideas, organize with others, communicate with school administrators and board members, attend board meetings, consider running for the school board themselves and vote in this November’s school board election. These are the mechanisms we have available to make improvements in our district.
Voting against the mill levy will not make these improvements happen. Voting against the mill levy will mean the loss of teachers, larger class sizes, and out-dated materials. Voting no will make it more difficult to make improvements to our district.
Over the years, many of the issues I have raised and the votes I have cast have been quite controversial. 3E is separate from those issues. Whatever other changes we may desire for our district, 3E is absolutely essential to the education of our children. Please vote yes on 3E and keep working to make our district the best it can be.
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