Wayne Lemley: Small cost for schools


Colorado families should consider the important benefits of Proposition 103, a very small tax increase to raise funds for our school districts. An excellent education is one of the most important things we can give our kids. The cost of a Proposition 103 is very small, only a few cents per day per family. Colorado schools desperately need funds to replace budget cuts during the recent three years.

An important additional benefit of having great schools in our area is increased real estate values. Homes and real estate are in higher demand and always more valuable in good school districts. People want to live and raise their families near good schools. The very small cost of Proposition 103 will easily pay for itself in the increased value of our homes.

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 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 Colorado. Think what wonderful lives 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.

Our public schools desperately need funds. Colorado school districts have endured big budget cuts for each of the past three years. There often are only a few gifted and talented teachers in school districts. Education technology in districts is often becoming out of date, and teacher salaries are not high enough to attract the very best new teachers to our area. Special education teachers, who help kids with poor reading and math skills, have often been studied for cutbacks. Our principals need more staff to manage the schools so principals can focus on being strong instructional leaders.

The $3 billion raised by Proposition 103 would be a great help to our school districts. The cost of Proposition 103 would be less than 50 cents per day for a typical family. In my own case, 50 cents per day is less than what I spend on snacks, coffee and junk food. Proposition 103 is a tiny cost to help give our kids an excellent education and improve the value of our homes.

Wayne Lemley

Steamboat Springs

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

Editor’s note: Wayne Lemley is running unopposed for the District 2 seat on the Steamboat Springs School Board.


Scott Ford 5 years, 5 months ago

Hi Wayne - I appreciate your passion for education and your willingness to serve on the RE2 School Board. Thanks for doing the math outlining how much (little) Proposition 103 will cost the typical Colorado household. - The core problem is that taxes are sneaky little devils. Once they get a foothold they rarely go away. For the most part we fool ourselves into thinking that the "sunset provision" makes it OK. In reality what happens is that at the end of 5 years there will be a long list of programs dependent of this tax making extending the vote "critical" to education - so we vote to renew the tax often with no sunset or a sunset that is 10+ years. I told you taxes are sneaky little devils.

As you state it is only $.50 per day for each Colorado household - essentially this is presented as no big deal. The math is simple .$.50 x 365 = $182 annually. Combine this with the increase in sales tax being requested by Referendum 2B and the typical Routt County household (costing $50 per year) is now paying close to an extra $250 a year.

Many companies have not given their employees a raise in 2 to 3 years and/or cut hours back. To put this in perspective according to US Census data the average Routt County working individual is working a 35 hour week (this includes all combinations of all jobs) 48 weeks a year. (This is based on 2009 data - my best guess the 2011 reality is lower.) This equates to 1,680 hours annually - Assuming 2 working people per household just to say even to offset this increase in taxes are going to need each a $.07 per hour raise. ($250/(1,680hrs x2)).

When is enough - enough? As a school board member this is a question I need you to be asking all the time.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 5 months ago

So taxes that pay for schools will increase property values? Good education has very little to do with money spent. Study after study shows that.

Good schools are because local parents that have high expectations pick better schools and then expect the schools to do a good job and expect their kids to learn. It is a self reinforcing cycle. It has very little to do with money spent on the schools.

Look at the local results here. SB scores well on CSAPS and says they plan on doing better. Hayden high school math is well below state average and they have excuses why no one should be upset and there are virtually no objections.

And so over 10% of Hayden's and Soroco's kids are being taught in SB schools.


sledneck 5 years, 5 months ago

The rules of basic economics says that we can give our kids only a limited number of things. Since resources are scarce and costly, schools and their funding must come at the expense of sacrafice elsewhere.

What I NEVER read in any of these "it's all about the children" appeals is a recommendation to cut something less improtant. Never a mention of trading a better education for the kids for those bike trails on Emerald Mt. or for the skate parks or rodeo grounds or airline subsidies or WHATEVER. Like the kids themselves, parents these days only know how to demand things, not how to chose between, ie prioritize and do without one thing so as to have another.


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