Stein column: Thank you for supporting our schools |

Stein column: Thank you for supporting our schools

Rob Stein
Superintendent's Corner
Rob Stein

The November election results gave us plenty to be thankful for this holiday season. We are grateful for our community’s vote of confidence in our schools and the passing of a mill levy override to address a staffing crisis. We couldn’t have asked for a better holiday present, so thank you. Your investment in our schools will keep on giving for years to come.

This funding will be difference-making for so many of our teachers and staff members; it will directly impact the lives and futures of our students and families. Every student, teacher and staff member in the Roaring Fork Schools joins me in expressing gratitude to our community for supporting our schools. This funding will help us address our staffing crisis and ensure we have great teachers and staff members in every school. We can’t thank you enough for this investment in our future.

I also want to thank the many volunteers and supporters who made this happen. This started more than two years ago with an exploration committee who studied the issues, put together plans and made a recommendation to the Board of Education in August. Then a hard-working group of campaign volunteers walked neighborhoods, posted signs, wrote letters and raised funds. It was invigorating before the election to see so many teachers and supporters waving signs as morning and afternoon commuters drove down main streets.

And I want to thank the teachers and staff members who continue to hold it together under challenging conditions. As the sign says in my local coffee shop, “Please be patient with those of us who did show up for work today.” Staff shortages have burdened the remaining staff members enormously as they have picked up extra shifts, given up planning time to cover classes and generally had to do more with less.

Because it will take time to restructure our entire compensation plan for over 900 employees, we are offering an immediate $500 hiring bonus for new staff who join us from December through March. Please spread the word, and you might even consider picking up a shift yourself.

The election was actually one for the history books for the Roaring Fork Schools: Almost 70% of voters supported the mill levy override to pay our teachers and staff a living wage, which is the strongest vote of support for a school district initiative at least in the last few decades.

We didn’t take this election for granted. While our communities have historically supported education measures, we find ourselves in a truly unique time. We’re in the second year of a pandemic, and many are still feeling economic pain and uncertainty. For so many to vote for a tax increase during such a hard time is generous indeed.

While our community has rallied around education, there’s no denying that the school board meetings around the country have reflected the polarization and tension in our nation. While people disagree about so much right now, it’s important that we all agree on having great schools. Thank you for coming together around this most worthy cause: our kids. Have a joyous and restful Thanksgiving this year.

Rob Stein is superintendent of Roaring Fork District schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

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