Guest column: Summit Schools need our help – now
and the Citizens for Strong Summit Schools campaign committee
Dear Citizens of Summit County: You may have noticed signs popping up in your neighbors’ yards recently encouraging you to vote “yes” on Ballot Question 3B. Perhaps someone from Citizens for Strong Summit Schools knocked on your door to bring the ballot issue to your attention. With Election Day approaching, Citizens for Strong Summit Schools is asking the Summit County community to support the mill levy override that will appear on the November ballot by voting yes on 3B.
We do not take our request for your support lightly. We think it’s important to let you know who we are, and why we believe in this measure – even during these difficult times. We hope that when you consider the impact of 3B you will agree the question has been carefully examined, and that passage of 3B is a reasonable and responsible solution to address the current school funding dilemma.
Colorado educators across the state are making decisions on how best to handle a statewide budget shortfall. Summit schools have cut $1.4 million from spending for 2010. Teacher and administrator salaries have been frozen. Programs have been trimmed back or cut out all together. These decisions are difficult, and no doubt mirror the cuts that have been made by many families and businesses throughout the county.
We are now at a crossroads, and as state and local funding continues to decrease, deeper cuts in the classroom are inevitable. In order to keep our schools strong the school district is asking you, through a yes vote on Ballot Question 3B, to allow schools to retain approximately 32 percent of a school mill levy that will expire this year. Even with a “yes” vote on 3B, all of our property tax rates will go down. A “yes” vote also will allow the schools to retain a portion of the tax decrease to help keep our schools running strong, and to prevent the loss of teachers and programs we all know can lead to the loss of families and valued community members.
As parents, it’s no surprise we think strong schools are a critical component of our community. If you have children in the district, or soon to be in our schools, your “yes” vote is important because it is incumbent upon each of us as parents to bear our share of costs associated with educating our kids. We recognize that many of you do not have children attending Summit Schools, and that the need to fund our schools may not seem as pressing. We hope you too will support the measure recognizing that we all benefit from the public school system, whether it was receiving your own education or the education of children now grown. For everyone, it’s also good to know strong schools help keep property values strong. According to the National Association of Realtors, the proximity to good quality schools is one of the most influential factors considered in home buying decisions.
There are of course statistics available that more graphically depict what is happening to school funding, and how our state compares to other states in this regard. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, based on information made available in 2007, Colorado ranked 49th in spending on education as a percentage of personal income. The same data placed Colorado 40th overall in school spending per pupil. We recognize a single ballot measure will not drastically change these statistics. It will, however, help ensure that deeper and more profound reductions are not required. And, even though we think the statistics tell a compelling story, we have come to know Summit County as a community that is far more interested in the people – both young and old – who are our county’s future. We hope that you’ll believe, as we do, that one of the most important cornerstones of our community life together is our schools.
Finally, we want to tell you how deeply we appreciate the overwhelming community support our schools have historically received, and continue to receive on a daily basis. We commit to be vigilant in working with our schools to ensure funds are wisely spent, and that our kids work hard to achieve their highest potential in order that they too may one day give back to their communities.
Should you have any questions about our organization, our commitment to this issue or the facts that have informed our decisions we encourage you to check out our website at http://www.strongsummitschools.org. None of us are paid pollsters, or hired campaign people. Instead, we are your friends, your neighbors and co-workers. We are here to talk with you and work with you to build stronger schools and a stronger community, and ask you to join with us and vote yes on Ballot Question 3B. Thank you.
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