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Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Dennis Yost expressed concern on an Oct. 22 letter that property owners pay property taxes to educate children while renters get a free ride.

As a retiree whose income is partly derived from rental units, I’d like to reassure him that I do not pay property taxes on my rentals. My tenants pay them as part of their rent. I merely collect their money and forward it to the government.

Most kind and considerate Mr. Yost, please don’t worry so much on my behalf. We landlords are okay.



Overall (though perhaps not in our over-built little valley), rental business has improved in recent years. You see, many tenants would love to be homeowners and pay property taxes directly but, thanks to inadequately restrained capitalism and consequent wealth inequities (recently highlighted by Post Independent columnist Hal Sundin on Oct. 20), they cannot afford it.

Ron Kokish



Carbondale

Many of you likely know that I’m a fierce advocate for education in the Roaring Fork Valley and throughout Colorado. I am writing today to express my support for Proposition 103.

Over the past three years, public education in Colorado has experienced severe budget cuts. During this time, $800 million has been cut from Colorado’s public schools. Across the state, K-12 cuts have forced teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, and increased activity fees, while universities and colleges have pushed up tuition making higher education less accessible for all Colorado families.

Due to these budget cuts, between fiscal year 2009-10 and fiscal year 2011-12, the Roaring Fork School District has lost $4.3 million, or $821 per student. This year’s cuts equal as much as $10,000 to $20,000 per classroom.

Educators and administrators in the district have gone to great lengths to keep past year’s cuts from being felt by the students, but we must realize that with cuts this drastic, students can no longer be shielded from their impact. Teachers and administrators simply cannot continue to do more with less.

A yes vote on Proposition 103 is crucial because it will create a five-year timeout on education cuts and will start putting money back into public education. The five-year measure will raise $536 million each year, and all of these funds are required to go to preschool, K-12, and higher education.

What this means for the Roaring Fork School District is that as much as $2,951,048, or $559 per student, could be restored to the budget in fiscal year 2012-13.

For information on Garfield Re-2 and Garfield District 16, please see: voteyeson103.com/what-will-proposition-103-do-for-your-school-district

This means that classroom sizes will remain small, teacher layoffs will be avoided, and fees for class activities and sports programs will remain affordable for all students. The Roaring Fork School District has always had an excellent reputation for education both inside and outside the classroom. Let’s pass Proposition 103 to make sure it remains that way.

Vote yes, because our kids can’t wait.

State Sen. Gail Schwartz

Snowmass Village

I am writing to urge voters in Garfield Re-2 School District to support ballot question 3C. The economic downturn has resulted in $2.9 million in cuts for the school district, and this mill levy will only backfill what has been cut from the state.

Re-2 has tightened its belt in these hard times by eliminating 23 administrative, teaching and paraprofessional teaching positions and by freezing salaries for every single person employed by Re-2 for the last three years.

Passing the mill levy override will create opportunities to keep all of our schools open and to keep current levels of academic programming, athletics and activities intact.

The biggest benefit will be for our students and our community. Equally important is that our mill levy dollars will stay local. It will lessen our dependence on state funding. Our mill levy money will not be subject to whims of state legislators.

Our children deserve strong schools. Thriving communities need strong schools. Vote yes on 3C.

Julie Knowles

Rifle

Please accept my response to Joyce Rankin’s Oct. 17 My Side column in the Post Independent against the mill levy override 3E. Ms. Rankin’s statement that smaller class sizes do not lead to improved student performance is completely off base.

As a former educator with a master’s degree in education, Ms. Rankin should be aware of several well-known national studies that demonstrate, to the contrary, that smaller class sizes do in fact lead to higher student achievement.

These national studies, such as the Tennessee Project STAR and Wisconsin’s SAGE, also found that the impact of small class size on achievement was particularly strong for children of minority and lower income families, and that this impact on their achievement was forward reaching. Certainly these findings are relevant to the student population of the Re-1 School District, something Ms. Rankin clearly overlooked.

Having well-qualified teachers, these studies concluded, is also integral to student success.

In addition to the impact on student achievement, small student-teacher ratios have other positive impacts on our students as well. For example, smaller student-teacher ratios allow our high schools to provide a wider variety of course offerings, including Advanced Placement and college-level courses, which they would not otherwise be able to offer.

Smaller student-teacher ratios also enable teachers to provide richer learning experiences, such as hands-on science projects (which are difficult to undertake in overcrowded classrooms).

In addition, maintaining a small class size enhances teachers’ ability to develop a strong, trusting relationship with each child. Such personal relationships are invaluable, as we want our teachers to know what each individual child is passionate about and what each child’s needs are.

Knowing that class size reduction, when combined with strong teacher quality, has been proven to lead to higher achievement, I strongly urge everyone to vote for the mill levy to preserve the strong teachers we currently have at Re-1, attract new strong teachers to the district, and keep classroom size as small as possible.

Julie Wiley

Carbondale

Our family moved to the valley from Denver almost two years ago, and one of our biggest concerns was the quality of area schools. We were happy with the education our son was getting in Denver public schools, even when we needed to hire a reading tutor, but we didn’t know what to expect in Basalt.

Our concerns about his education dissipated when he not only caught up, but began to thrive at Basalt Elementary. The teachers he had last year were outstanding. They spent time with us to answer any questions we had and made recommendations on what we could do to help him continue to grow.

Our daughter entered kindergarten this year at Basalt Elementary, and she is thriving as well. She loves school, her teachers and her friends. We could not be happier with what Re-1 has done.

As a new school board member for Re-1, it has been part of my job to make difficult decisions on where to cut money during this year’s difficult budget process. I know first-hand that there is nothing left to cut. With more potential cuts coming next year from the state, I’m extremely concerned.

We need to pass Referendum 3E to restore some of the cuts that have been made over the past few years. We need to maintain small class sizes, retain and hire excellent teachers, update our textbooks and take care of our buildings. It is imperative for this district and our community to take care of schools by giving them the money needed so that they can properly teach our children.

This investment is critical to our success as a school district, community and nation.

We encourage everyone to vote yes on 3E.

Richard Stettner and Jill Stettner

Basalt

When I read about the ban of single-use bags in Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale, I could not figure out what single-use bags were. Then I realized they were the plastic bags from grocery stores.

Why are they called single use? Aren’t they reused for wastebasket liners, shoe bags for travel, repositories for wet bathing suits in backpacks, containers for smelly fish and chicken parts kept in the freezer until trash day, and last but not least, poop bags for our dogs? If I walked my dog up-valley and had no single-use bag, I would just have to let it lay where it landed. A paper towel or paper bag just wouldn’t do the job.

I don’t know about everyone else, but in my household there is no such thing as a single-use bag being used only to carry groceries home. I propose a contest to see how many creative uses there are for single-use bags.

Sally Bedford

Battlement Mesa


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