Melissa VanArsdale: Pay it forward

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— Let's pay it forward this election day by voting "yes" on 2A and 2B, thus keeping the half-cent sales tax to support education. The Education Fund has been in existence since 1993 with the first passing of the half-cent sales tax. And since then, voters have renewed the tax two times in support of public education. I'm well aware that our economic times are tough. And as a result, many of us are more frugal with our money. But there is no need to nickel-and-dime a vote against 2A and 2B.

Education is and always will be of utmost importance in our community. A vote to keep the half-cent sales tax will not break our banks. One half cent equals 0.005 dollars, or 1/200th of a dollar. In return, this half-cent has given us more spending power for education. How many times have you vacuumed up pennies from your car floor or tossed pennies into the change jar at a store? And most likely, you weren't too concerned about it.

Plus, with our struggling economy, we should keep in mind that a good school district adds value and increases home prices. This is because schools are often one of the most important factors in an area's desirability. The Wall Street Journal reports in an article titled "Buying a New Home: How Important Is the School District?" (February 2008) that homebuyers are more willing to shell out extra cash to be in good school districts. And, even for buyers and owners who don't have school-age children, good schools can ensure consistent demand for properties - and strong prices.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today reported on July 30, 2008, that all "Steamboat Springs School District schools scored well in the 2008 CSAP, outperforming state averages for proficient and advanced students in every category." News such as this should maintain our property values.

So what do we have to lose with a "no" vote? Plenty. Here are just some of the things that will be lost to a nickel-and-dime "no" vote:

- Reduced class size

- 16 salaried teachers

- Spanish program for grades 3 and up

- Gifted and Talented program plus one full-time GT teacher from each school

- Steamboat Springs Orchestra Youth Program

- Yampa Valley Science School

- Technological advancement and new equipment

- Director of Technology and all technology staff

- Salaried grant writer (by the way, grants have brought $4.8 million to Steamboat and regional schools in the past 10 years, including funding teachers to work with at-risk and expelled students)

- Additional funding that in the past has supported the artificial turf field (which has eliminated hours of missed classes to practice offsite), universal playgrounds (two new playgrounds which will enable all kids of all abilities to play together), expansion of vocational facilities, expansion of the middle school (such as the sixth-grade wing to provide team teaching and enhanced learning), and more.

I invite you to visit www.steamboateducationfund.org to learn more about the benefits that 1/200th of a dollar can bring to our community. I ask you to share with a neighbor why we all benefit by keeping the half-cent sales tax. And pay it forward Steamboat. Vote "yes" on 2A and 2B.

Melissa VanArsdale

Steamboat Springs

Comments

diplodocus 5 years, 6 months ago

I've never voted against an education tax in my life, but I think this will be my first. When a BOE is so irresponsible that it fires a supt. and pays out $270,000, then fires a principal and is looking at another possible $400,000 pay-out, I refuse to fund them as if it is business as usual. Plus they had the gall to tell the teachers that they couldn't find enough money to give them more than a one half percent raise. If they can't handle public money any better than that, they don't deserve the privilege. They should not let their squabbling among themselves and with the previous board distort their judgment. Until they put the good of the school system first, instead of their ego, I refuse to fund them further.

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Carrie Requist 5 years, 6 months ago

Then vote out the BOE, don't vote against the 1/2 cent sales tax and get rid of all the great programs that it funds. At least this 1/2 cent sales tax money is not at the sole discretion on the BOE. The programs that want to use the money ask for it in applications to the Ed Fund Board and those approved by the Ed Fund Board are sent to the BOE for final approval. The BOE cannot use the 1/2 cent sales tax the way it can the general fund.

Your punishment (to vote against the 1/2 cent sales tax) would not punish the ones you are angry with, but would punish the students and teachers quite a bit and make it that much harder for the school system to be successful. Please don't sacrifice a generation of students because you don't like the BOE. If you want to see changes there, you need to find good people to serve on the BOE, get them to run and vote for them.

I would like to see more accountability reporting on the 1/2 cent sales tax money (did the expenditures produce the expected results?) as I think that will help the Ed Fund Board and the BOE better decide how to allocate the 1/2 cent sales tax fund.

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untamedShrewd 5 years, 6 months ago

diplodocus,

you need to return to school

The Education Fund Board and the Board of Education are two seperate entities. The EFB is a local sales tax for public education in our area only, not for the state of Colorado. It provides gifts in response to requests from groups within the school district. The BOE (as with any other of the 177 school districts in Colorado) receives its funding from the Public School Finance.

Colorado public schools receive funding from a variety of sources. However, most revenues to Colorado's 178 school districts are provided through the Public School Finance Act of 1994 (as amended). In budget year 2008-09, this legislation provides for over $5.3 billion of funding to Colorado school districts via state taxes ($3.39 billion), local specific ownership (vehicle registration) taxes ($160 million), and local property taxes ($1.8 billion). Moneys provided via the Public School Finance Act of 1994 are available to each school district to fund the costs of providing public education.

A growing body of evidence shows that Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, has contributed to a significant decline in that state's public services. This decline has serious implications not only for the 4.6 million residents of Colorado, but also for the many millions of residents of other states in which TABOR-like measures are now being promoted.

TABOR, a state constitutional amendment adopted in 1992, limits the growth of state and local revenues to a highly restrictive formula: inflation plus the annual change in population. This formula is insufficient to fund the ongoing cost of government. By creating a permanent revenue shortage, TABOR pits state programs and services against each other for survival each year and virtually rules out any new initiatives to address unmet or emerging needs.

Declining services since TABOR's enactment have become increasingly evident in most major areas of state spending: K-12 education, higher education, public health, and Medicaid.

TABOR Has Contributed to Declines in Colorado K-12 Education Funding--Under TABOR, Colorado declined from 35th to 49th in the nation in K-12 spending as a percentage of personal income.

Colorado's average per-pupil funding fell by more than $400 relative to the national average.

Colorado's average teacher salary compared to average pay in other occupations declined from 30th to 50th in the nation.

The TABOR Law's restrictions is all the more reason we should support the Education Fund Board. Get your facts straight before pressing return. Visit www.cde.state.co.us/index_finance.htm for more information.

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