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Post IndependentGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

I am writing to encourage people to vote for Terry Lott Richardson in the upcoming Roaring Fork School District election.Terry Lott Richardson understands the delicate balance we need to maintain excellent, forward-thinking education and sound fiscal policy. As the single mother of two students in the RFSD, Terry has a personal stake in our local schools, in seeing that not only does the Roaring Fork School District offer the strongest curriculum possible, but that classes are administered efficiently and in a fiscally responsible manner. Terry Lott Richardson wants more transparency between the school district and its stakeholders. She would like to hold meetings with members of the school community, from parents, teachers, administration and staff, to residents of the valley. She believes that all voices need to be heard, not just at board meetings, but at open gatherings. Terry knows the importance of having the involvement of community members when making decisions for our school district.Terry can look at a situation, define the issues, establish clear goals and implement a plan to achieve them. She knows how to bring people together to design creative, budget-conscious and environmentally sound solutions.I am looking for candidates who are committed to providing a solid education for our children, who clearly identify problems and face the challenges head-on, who appreciate the value of education, who are equipped with the necessary life experience to be successful on the board of education.Terry Lott Richardson and Daniel Biggs possess all of these qualities, and I urge voters to join me in voting for them. Please take the time to learn more about Terry and her goals at http://www.terrylottrichardson. weebly.com or on Facebook (search for Terry Lott Richardson for RFSD Board) or email her at mom4rfsd@gmail.com.Jenny CutrightGlenwood Springs

Do readers know about World Revolution Day, which was Oct. 15, 2011? If you don’t, you are almost certainly not alone. If the name being used for that date tweeks your curiosity, enter the words “World Revolution, October 15″ into an Internet search engine. Spending a few minutes reading about the movement will help readers become more informed. Readers may or may not like what they find there, but they will at least be able to ask some pertinent questions, such as:”Why are so many people around the world frustrated?” “Is their frustration justified?” “What do they want?” “Do I share any of their concerns?” “When and where did this movement start?” “Is this connected in any way to the current ‘Occupy’ movement here in the U.S.?” “How long has Oct. 15 been targeted as the date for this world-wide demonstration?” And, maybe a key question: “Why haven’t I heard about this before?”John PalmerGlenwood Springs

Since 2009, the Roaring Fork School District has lost $5.1 million in funding. More cuts are planned for next year. Passing a mill levy will recover $4.8 million. When our grandson was in kindergarten in Glenwood Springs last year, parents and grandparents needed to provide supplies for teaching and art. When school opened this year, a first-grade class had been eliminated for budget reasons, leaving remaining first grades overcrowded. Funds were found after two weeks, and another class was added. Now students are in appropriately-sized classes. Students have had no new textbooks in three years. How can children be competitive with outdated materials? Teachers have received no raises in three years. Teaching positions have been eliminated. How can we retain or attract outstanding teachers?We are proud of the academic success of Glenwood Springs High School. This success was built on a firm foundation current students received in elementary and middle school. If we do not support this vote, when current elementary children reach high school they will not have a strong academic foundation. We do need to revamp parts of our system, but we cannot do this at the expense of the current crop of students. It is they who will suffer from an inferior education for the rest of their lives.A “yes” vote to support our schools has economic benefits. Individuals and businesses want to locate in areas with strong school systems. Our property values will be enhanced by quality schools. Further educational cuts to teaching and support positions will lead to more unemployment. With recent property valuations, we actually will be paying less property tax than in recent years.We need a nation of educated citizens. We have had educational opportunity. Let’s not sacrifice an entire generation of children in this valley to substandard educational experiences. Students do not have many educational alternatives in this valley. Most cannot afford those options. They cannot vote.We are taxpayers without a vote (part-time residents) yet strongly support a yes vote for all the children of this valley.Frank and Mary Jo MurphyCarbondale



I’ve gotten so concerned about tax increases in the current economy that I no longer have the luxury of continuing to throw money at failing programs. The Colorado Department of Education has some interesting statistics about the schools in our state and how they are doing academically. This prompted me to do some research. Five years ago Glenwood Springs High School was academically ranked 197 out of 307 (reading and math CSAP scores combined). This year, 2011, they’ve improved to 55th out of 336 high schools (up 62 ranking places) in the state.GSHS appears to be going in the right direction: upward. Basalt Middle School has improved 77 ranking places. Others appear to be losing ground.What is the staff at GSHS doing and why can’t it be repeated? If we continued to go upward, our students would be receiving a better education. This is only one school in the district. It’s only 769 students in a district of 5,344.Should all teachers in the district receive a pay raise because of what one school is accomplishing? Or should other teachers benefit from the work of a school that is on an upward trend? I’m sure the answer would be no to both questions. If the money generated by the tax increases was used to reward teachers’ excellent teaching techniques and leadership to raise student achievement, then I would say yes. As it stands, a vote no on Proposition 103 and 3E is a vote to demand better education. Our district is ranked 68th academically among 124 districts, in a state that is ranked in the middle of a nation, in a nation that is losing position in the world. Our children deserve better. Vote no on both tax increases.Nancie ShaugerNew Castle

As a longtime teacher in the Roaring Fork School District, I would like to give the voters my perspective on why they should vote for the local mill levy. Let us take Glenwood Springs High School as an example of what happens in our district overall. A typical day at GSHS begins around 7:30 a.m. As the day progresses, teachers, counselors, secretaries and administrators manage, educate and deal with the problems of more than 800 students from a huge variety of backgrounds. It is a monumental task. Well after the teaching day is over, many of them are working in their classrooms grading, or in meetings developing plans to improve learning for individual students. Still others are busy putting in long hours grading papers or coaching.The results of their efforts are shown in our students’ test scores. GSHS has one of the highest academic growth records on CSAP. Science CSAP scores for GSHS are at 57 percent proficient or advanced as compared to the state average of 44 percent. In addition, our AP scores in many subject areas are some of the best in the state. If the mill levy does not pass, employees, including teachers, will be cut. Class sizes will go up, making it much more difficult for teachers to give individual attention to students and lowering test scores. Many elective courses that provide a well-rounded education will be cut. Extracurricular activities that keep many kids in school will be cut. Most importantly these cuts will affect our students’ overall preparation for college and entering the workforce.It is my understanding that the proposed mill levy will amount to $9.42 per month for a house valued at $300,000. This amount will be added to your escrow account on your mortgage. To me this is a small price to pay in order to maintain a healthy local school system. Keep in mind also that residences in areas with good schools have notably higher resale values than those from areas with poor schools.Joe MollicaGlenwood Springs



Crunch time is upon us. The Roaring Fork School District mail-in ballots arrived last week. If you are a supporter of passing 3E (endorsing the mill levy override), then thank you. Fill out your ballots, mail them in quickly and read no further. If you know with certainty you are not in support of 3E, then exercise your democratic rights and stop reading. But if you have not yet made up your mind, then please do read further. I hope I can sway you to vote for this critical measure.Are you worried about the added expense to your budget, even though next year we will be paying less in property taxes even if this measure passes? Maybe you like to support education initiatives, but it’s a matter of putting a little extra food on your table, and who could argue with you? Perhaps you are reluctant to dump money into a failed system, which is a valid concern and should be discussed after we are sure our students have up-to-date textbooks, reasonable class sizes and we are no longer facing potential school closures.Those who are unhappy with the school district administration and don’t want to reward them for a job seen as poorly performed shouldn’t punish the children. Vote for reform on the school board by selecting candidates Matt Hamilton, Daniel Biggs and Terry Lott Richardson, who will hold the district accountable, unlike the current school board.Think about this. Recently, the state of Colorado applied for millions of dollars in funding from the federal government’s Race to the Top competitive grant. Sadly, we lost out to more reform-minded states like Massachusetts, which incidentally outspends us per student by 35 percent. With Colorado ranked 40th in per capita spending on education, the story on the street as to why Colorado wasn’t awarded this grant funding is this: Why should the federal government invest in Colorado when Colorado doesn’t even invest in itself? If we don’t invest in our community, who will?Erika LeavittBasalt

The public entities, whose incomes will be reduced by new lower and realistic property valuations, are lining up at the trough and begging for our help. Funny we didn’t hear from them when their inflated incomes and our inflated property taxes were based on out-of-date, antiquated valuation data. Don’t be fooled into voting for these “feel good” ballot items 3E and 4A to increase taxes. We have already been overtaxed for the past two years.If the school district wants my support in the future, I would make a few suggestions directed at board members and administrators alike:• Cut the superintendent’s salary in half. In business circles this is known as leadership.• Suspend all raises, bonuses, hiring and capital expenditures.• Cut administrative overhead to the lowest level possible. The district will know what possible is when it doesn’t have the money.• As a last resort, look at teacher staffing levels. Remember that teachers are the ones who deliver the product (education) to the customers (students). I do not believe that teachers are overpaid. However I also do not believe that a modest increase in class size above the current level of 22 will cause a deterioration in the level of service provided. This is always the hue and cry raised by the administrators and teachers unions alike, without any scientific evidence to back it up. Don’t believe it.Also on our ballot is another tax increase proposal, 4A from the Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District. It too regales us with with a litany of horror stories about the consequences of cutting into its slush fund: slower response times, etc. I would admonish the powers that be at the firehouse to learn to live with a lower standard of expenditure, as have millions of Americans across the country. It’s all too easy for public entities to do dumb things when they have unlimited amounts of OPM – other people’s money. For example, the cutesy little antique fire truck on display at the Fire Hall.I urge all taxpayers to vote no on these tax measures.Bill MyersCarbondale

“It is the provision for public education which, from the very first, throw into clearest relief the originality of the American civilization.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy on America, 45 The visiting French scholar wrote this line in the 1830s in his masterful survey of the emerging American democracy. De Tocqueville was amazed that in this New World, “provisions follow for establishing schools in all townships, and oblige the inhabitants, under the penalty of heavy fines, to maintain them.” Such provisions meant that all people had access to quality education, equipping them with the ability to intelligently speak out their opinions in the public square, voting box and in the institutions of democracy. In de Tocqueville’s analysis, American principles of liberty and education for all in the wilderness of the New World were to become watchwords of a great people. The founding fathers understood that in order for America to be great, it required quality public education. Thomas Jefferson himself felt that the best defense of freedom was an educated person actively participating in government. He wrote that if public education in America crumbled and “if people forget themselves in the sole faculty of making money, the future of the republic was bleak and tyranny would not be far away.” (Notes on the State of Virginia, 676). Voting yes on 3E for public education funding in the Roaring Fork Valley may not seem like a vote for the strength of America, but Jefferson and de Tocqueville teach us otherwise. Voting yes on 3E ensures that every Roaring Fork Valley student can make his or her voice heard in the public square. Voting yes on 3E means that those same students are equipped to succeed in life. Voting yes on 3E protects founding American principles of liberty and education for all. Voting yes on 3E ensures that our beautiful valley and our country remain great. Please vote yes on 3E. Rev. Dr. Melanie Dobson HughesCarbondale

I am writing to ask readers to vote yes on 3E supporting our children’s education. This is critical to the education of students from Glenwood Springs to Basalt. Consider three things:1. The dedication and exceptional talent of our teachers.2. The reality of state budget shortfalls for funding our schools.3. Years of fiscal austerity leading up to this ballot initiative.1. Student success relies on dedicated and talented teachers. Living in Glenwood Springs for 22 years, I’ve been involved in many aspects of the district’s operation. My children attended elementary-to-high school here. I was a member of the first foundation to support our schools. I have been an employee of the district for 17 years, nine as the technology director. I am thankful for our teachers and staff and appreciate their commitment to every student.2. State budget shortfalls and a flawed funding system are at the heart of our financial predicament. The University of Colorado Denver detailed this in a report available on the Internet at: bit.ly/nA19v2. While the recent economic downturn has brought increased pressure on state revenues, we have been approaching a state crisis in funding education for many years. Meanwhile inflation and other factors have increased operational costs. This predicament wasn’t created by local schools but requires local help.3. Responding to shortfalls early and often. Thanks to the foresight of our finance director, Shannon Pelland, and the cooperation of staff, teachers, administration, board and parents, the district has kept students in the forefront while cutting the budget. A salary freeze begun in September 2008 has continued with reductions in services, materials and staff, including 80 full and part time positions. Cuts in my department have decreased my staff’s opportunity to provide needed support for students and staff. These reductions haven’t come easily, but the process has been creative and public.Vote for 3E to support our children providing the district with basic funding to keep pace with shortfalls from the state. To listen to recordings of budget deliberations from spring 2011, go to: http://www.rfsd.k12.co.us and click on the “District Finance” link.David McGavockGlenwood Springs

In my term as an Roaring Fork School Board member, I have become more aware of both the strengths and challenges of our district. Two things that stand out most positively in my mind are that we have an incredibly competent, committed and passionate teaching staff, and that we experience meticulously responsible financial stewardship under the direction of Shannon Pelland. I have also found a few core issues that consistently arise as being areas in which our district is in need of improvement.After spending some time talking with all of the school board candidates in this November’s election, I believe that Matt Hamilton, Daniel Biggs and Terry Lott Richardson will provide the perspective we need for both drawing on our district’s strengths and working on areas in which we could improve.Hamilton, Biggs and Richardson are the three candidates who:• Understand the need to focus more district resources on educating the whole child.• Understand and value the importance of student-teacher relationships to children’s education.• Recognize the creative potential and collective wisdom of our teachers, and want to provide them with more opportunities to draw on their passion for teaching and use their professional judgement in working with each individual child. • Understand that the board must seek multiple perspectives and multiple sources of information in order to provide adequate oversight of the district.• Are committed to improving the ways in which our district engages with teachers and other community members who bring forward constructive feedback.All voters in the Roaring Fork School District, from Basalt and Carbondale to Glenwood Springs, can vote for candidates in all three seats. Hamilton will be running unopposed for District B; Richardson and Biggs are running for contested seats in districts C and D, respectively.I hope you will join me in voting for Hamilton, Biggs and Richardson as our next school board members.Debbie BruellCarbondale


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