I was shocked and deeply disappointed that three of the four Steamboat Springs School Board members voted not to support Amendment 66. Of all the school boards representing the 179 school districts in the state of Colorado, only two have chosen not to support this measure, and we are one of them. Shameful and embarrassing are the words that come to mind.
Teachers, on the other hand, who really know the most about education and what happens on a daily basis, overwhelmingly support this proposal. Kudos to Randy Homan who said he was “looking at the better good for all of Colorado” with his vote of support. I am dismayed that the School Board is so shortsighted to not see the big picture of this landmark amendment.
Despite enduring more than $1 billion in budget cuts throughout the past several years, Colorado educators have worked hard to provide a high quality education to their students. Class sizes have ballooned and essential programs have been cut.
Not only will Amendment 66 put an additional $1.9 million into Routt County schools, it will ensure for the entire state:
■ Smaller class sizes and the ability to hire more than 1,000 new teachers and aides, which translates to more one-on-one attention
■ $80 million to special education, English language learners and at-risk students
■ Additional funding for early childhood education, preschool and full-day kindergarten
■ A guarantee that new money goes to improve our classrooms.
Colorado ranks the 49th lowest in the nation for per-pupil spending while also enjoying the sixth-lowest combined state and local tax rate in the nation. Take a moment to absorb that. If Amendment 66 passes, the average Colorado family will pay $133 more per year, which roughly equates to giving up one burrito with extra guacamole per month. So burrito vs. our children, you know the answer.
I had the good fortune to raise four children in the Steamboat Springs School District and was very involved on many levels. They all have long graduated, and I easily could selfishly say it’s not my problem anymore, my kids made it through.
My daughter is now a teacher at a charter school in the Denver Public Schools system. When I asked her what the passing of Amendment 66 would mean to her school, she said, “Mom, I now realize how very lucky I was to be in the Steamboat schools and to have had so much support and opportunities. The children I now teach are no less intelligent, no less curious and no less motivated than I was at their age or those who are simply lucky enough to live in the right zip code. Amendment 66 just makes a good education more equitable for all.”
I thought to myself, beautifully said, yet so very tragic.
If there is one thing we all can agree on, it is that a good education drives individual, community and economic well-being. Amendment 66 will put kids on the path to future success by investing in early childhood education, reducing class sizes and placing high quality teachers and principals in our schools. Those are fundamental components to building the skills of our future workforce.
All of us like to talk about the value of a good education. Now go do the right thing and invest in all of our kids by voting ‘yes’ on Amendment 66. I strongly encourage you to go to www.coloradocommits.com to further educate yourselves and get the facts on this landmark initiative.