Saturday, October 12, 2002
Hayden For months, the Progress for Education campaigners in Hayden have taken every chance they can get to convince the town that their teachers and school district staff are underpaid.
At club and organization meetings, they walk through the facts and show charts comparing the starting salary of a Hayden teacher to the salary paid by surrounding districts.
At first, they questioned whether the voters of Hayden would be willing to take on a heavier property tax burden to offer competitive salaries to their teachers.
They were surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response.
"The biggest question I've heard at our presentations is, 'Will that be enough?'" said school board trustee and campaign volunteer Patty Bruchez.
Last week, the group sent out mailers to every Hayden post office box holder explaining the crisis the school district faced last year with the loss of several students and the funding lost as a result.
The Hayden School District receives $6,000 a year in funding per student. With fewer students enrolled last year, they lost about $140,000. Money was down, but expenses were not.
Instead of cutting programs or bus routes, the school district was forced to cut one social studies teacher.
It was a very difficult decision, Bruchez said at the beginning of the campaign, and one that the district hopes never to face again.
November voters are asked to vote "yes" on the 3A ballot question to approve a $154,000 tax override to compensate the district for money lost.
The money will be used to raise the teacher salaries by $2,000 a year as well as better compensating janitors, bus drivers and other district staff.
Today, a Hayden teacher starts at $24,133 a year, compared to $29,075 in Steamboat Springs and $26,500 in South Routt.
For a Hayden resident whose home is valued at $200,000, the tax hike would mean an additional $34.11 per year.
Commercial properties will experience about a $54 increase in taxes per $100,000, said Routt County tax assessor and campaign volunteer Amy Williams. Agricultural property will see a tax increase of 15 cents per acre for hay meadows and 5 cents per acre for dry farmland, she said.
The group will be operating a phone bank on Thursday and Oct. 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Teachers and other volunteers will call Hayden residents on a last push for support before the election.
"So far we haven't heard any rumblings or opposition to our campaign," Bruchez said, "but this is a very hard thing to come out against. We'll see how people actually feel on Election Day."
The only negative comment that Bruchez has heard thus far is in reference to the summers that teachers take off.
"Some people say that teachers shouldn't be paid that much because they work part time," Bruchez said, "but at Hayden High School, the coaches are in the weight room at 6:30 a.m. so athletes can work out.
"I have kids involved in activities from 6:30 in the morning to 7 at night and there are always teachers at the school. That's 12 hours a day," she said. "Being a teacher is about more than classroom time."
If ballot question 3A passes in Hayden, taxes will be raised retroactively to the beginning of the current school year. Teachers and district staff will be paid on the new salary schedule retroactively.
To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210
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