Wayne Lemley: Mill levy a small cost for education


— Steamboat parents and the School Board should consider the important benefit of a small mill levy to raise funds for our school district. An excellent education is one of the most important things we can give our kids. The cost of a mill levy is very small, only a few cents a day per family. Steamboat schools desperately need funds to replace budget cuts over the recent three years.

Why is an excellent education so important for our kids? Students with good college degrees can easily find great employment, even in these times of very high unemployment. Students with good reading, math and communication skills are greatly needed in our country, and they are hired readily. On the other hand, kids who drop out of school face 20 percent or higher unemployment rates. America’s youths are now tied for ninth in the world in college attainment.

What greater gift can we give our kids than the very best communication and analytical skills? We need the very best reading and math teaching here in Routt County. Think of what wonderful lives all of our kids will have when they have the greatest communication and math skills. Our kids can become the greatest artists, musicians, engineers, builders, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers or managers. Don’t we want our kids to have great lives? Social lives? Have wonderful homes and families? The key is to be smart, well educated, good communicators. Let’s give them the very best education possible.

Just think how great it would be if 95 percent of all Steamboat students read and performed math at or above grade level. What wonderful lives we would be giving them. How capable and ready they would be for the very competitive world we now live in. What an accomplishment.

Our public schools desperately need funds. The Steamboat Springs School District has endured big budget cuts for each of the past three years. There are only two gifted and talented teachers in the entire school district. Education technology in the district is becoming out of date while teacher salaries are not high enough to attract the best new teachers to our area. Special education teachers, who help kids with poor reading and math skills, have been studied for cutbacks. Our principals need more staff to manage the schools so that principals can focus on being strong instructional leaders. In the nation’s best schools, principals spend 75 percent of their time leading their schools in good instruction, while their staff handles school management.

Another $500,000 in revenue would be a great help to our school district. The cost of such a mill levy would be about $100 per year for a typical family home, less than 50 cents per day. In comparison, private education can cost well over $20,000 per year. An additional $100 per year is a tiny cost to help give our kids an excellent education.

Wayne Lemley

Steamboat Springs

Wayne Lemley has written a number of articles on raising capable children .. http://alumni.brown.edu/lemley.


beentheredonethat 5 years, 11 months ago

if you don't like the schools we have here, then move elsewhere. we have been taxed enough in the past to provide for education.


sledneck 5 years, 11 months ago

Tuition at a local private school (i just looked it up) is $6,500 -$6,800 per year for the first student and lowers to $5,300 - $5600 for a second and to $4,600 - $4,900 / year for a third student. Way below the preposterous figures Mr. Lemley states above."private education can cost well over $20, 000 / year". Bull Economics is "the study of the use (or allocation) of scarce resources which have alternate uses". You can't have more, Mr. Lemley. There IS NO MORE. I too would like our schools to have more funding with which to educate our kids. The question is not how to get that extra money from taxpayers (for they are broke). The question is which other government expenditure to cut in order to be able to re-direct those funds toward education. Emerald mt? Iron Horse? Etc? THAT is where your school money is.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 11 months ago

I think the SB community considers quality schools to be important. I also think that the schools appear to have enough money. When the budget cuts are balancing between cutting some district office curriculum job and an elementary school Spanish program while being willing to pay for another high priced superintendent instead of looking to save by promoting from within then education is not being hurt due to a lack of revenues.

So a tax hike at this time places more of a burden on people that are struggling so that a school district can keep various perks. Not likely to pass in my opinion.


Fred Duckels 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm always suspicious when "apple pie monopolistic entities" ask for more money. Where is the yardstick to evaluate the need? Everyone could use more money, so where is the evidence of need? Am I deserving of a guilt trip if I am a litle leery? We have had 10 supers in 10 years, this makes me wonder.


Jeff_Kibler 5 years, 11 months ago

Executive summary: The US has almost quadrupled spending per public education pupil from 1961 through 2007. Has achievement improved, have test scores risen?



Wayne Lemley 5 years, 11 months ago

Please email Wayne if you are supportive of academic excellence in Steamboat Springs! >> waynec@usdiscovery.com


Jeff_Kibler 5 years, 11 months ago

So, we don't email you. Must be 'cause we don't support academic excellence.


Rick Akin 5 years, 11 months ago

Wayne, I will not bother to email you, but I support academic excellence in Steamboat Springs. I am pretty sure that all the folks making comments above do too. In fact, I don't know anyone who does not. That is not the issue. The issue is that we have the right, and I would say obligation, to demand efficiency and accountability. A case has to be made first and I don't see that the case has been made. I invite you to make the case, but this is going to require specifics--facts and figures, and it is going to have to show me that a tax increase is the only reasonable way to make an improvement. I am always ready to be persuaded, but don't expect it to be easy.


middleclass 5 years, 11 months ago

Throwing more taxpayer money at the school system isn't working too good. The US is ranked 17th for science and 25th for mathematics; our overall ranking compared to other countries have been dropping every year. We're NOT getting our monies worth.

I suggest that we need an independent audit of ANY organization which receives taxpayer monies (mill levys and subsudies). The State of Kansas is doing just that via their Attorney Generals Office.

We (taxpayers) should have the right to see how our dollars are being spent. I guarantee you there will be surprises. Or maybe we won't be surprised at the waste in overhead costs; programs that aren't cost effective.


scott selby 5 years, 11 months ago

@middleclass. You do know that Steamboat School District and every school in the State of Colorado is required by law and does have an independent audit conducted every year, right? Maybe you should take a look.


Wayne Lemley 5 years, 11 months ago

People, listen. I attended every Soda Creek School Accountability Committee meeting this academic year. Very little is wasted. Teachers work very hard. Budgets have been cut. On the whole, our district is one of the best in Colorado. Schools involve a lot of people. People are expensive. There is no way around it. Our kids really deserve the best.

The amount we pay for education in property taxes is way less than the cost of a good private education! A few cents more a day, about $100 per year, would go a long way to help our district defray the cruel effect of Colorado's TABOR act.

Yes, there is more our district can do to greatly improve education here. In fact it would cost very little. I visited a top Colorado elementary school a few months ago. If Steamboat Today permits, I will write about my visit and how we can get much more for our education dollar in a surprisingly easy way.

Let's not be pennywise and pound foolish when it comes to educating our kids. They deserve it and really really need it!

Please email me if you support education excellence in Steamboat .. waynec@usdiscvoery.com. Wayne


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