Dylan Roberts: ‘Yes’ on 66

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Unfortunately, bipartisanship in our nation’s politics is not something that is even worth hoping for right now. Yet Colorado voters have the opportunity to do something uniquely bipartisan for our state’s kids in the upcoming election.

What if you knew something was:

■ Endorsed by the major newspapers in Grand Junction, Denver, Greeley and Boulder, among others

■ Endorsed by more than 100 business leaders from across the state

■ Endorsed by elected officials from both parties throughout Colorado

■ Estimated to bring $3.3 billion to $4 billion in economic gain per year to Colorado, according to the University of Colorado and Denver University business schools.

That bipartisan and economic driver is Amendment 66, and it is on your ballot right now. Look to the future, stand up for our entire state and please vote “yes.”

Yes, passing this amendment will raise the income tax rate on working adults in Colorado. As someone without kids, I could do without the tax increase right now because I would not see the benefits of this right away. But I am willing to look beyond the average tax of $11 per month this will cost because what is gained is worth so much more than that.

This amendment not only is good for Colorado schools, but it is specifically good for Steamboat Springs and Routt County. Every single school district in the state will see an increase in funding. This means that our schools in Hayden, South Routt and Steamboat can add technology, better fund early-childhood education, reduce class sizes and more.

We also must look beyond the incredible town in which we live because Colorado’s education system is hurting. Our state currently ranks 41st out of 50 in the amount of money it spends per student. This amendment would change the Colorado Constitution so that education funding is locked in and cannot be reduced during difficult economic times. It allocates funding based on need, helping underserved districts that need the assistance the most. This amendment would make Colorado what it deserves to be: a state that makes quality public education a priority whether the kid lives in Steamboat, Aurora, Cherry Hills Village or Montrose.

Sure, it would be easy for those of us without kids in the K-12 public education system to think this is not important because the small tax increase will not benefit us. I could be one of those people. But I am not because when I voted “yes” for Amendment 66, I thought of my young cousins at Strawberry Park Elementary School and their parents, the first-graders in my sister’s classroom in Denver and all the future kids who will enter our public schools someday, including my own.

We can be proud of our town and its excellent schools and insulate ourselves from the rest of the state and think that other school districts simply are not of our concern. I think we are better than that, though, and I hope you do, too. Be proud of Routt County while showing your state pride: Vote for Colorado’s future. Vote “yes” on Amendment 66.

This is an all mail-in ballot election. If you have not done so already, fill in your ballot and put it in the mail with a stamp (or drop it off if you read this after Saturday). If you have not received a ballot or need to register to vote, it’s not too late: Visit the Routt County Clerk and Recorder online or at the Routt County Courthouse.

Dylan Roberts

Steamboat Springs

Comments

PJ Howe 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I hope, Mr. Roberts, that you have been contributing graciously, from YOUR pocket, to the school systems in our area. I have listened to my children when they come home from their day at our “underfunded” schools about how incredibly awful their day was. Those comments can be summed up quite easily…MOVIES, or if you prefer, NOTHING. Money is not the issue, never has been. How the money is spent is the issue. My daughter’s first comment when she went to college, “Dad, they didn’t teach us anything in High School.”

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John Weibel 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks for helping me make up my mind. Anything that locks in the amount of funding for schools, no matter if there is an economic downturn is dumb. If the economy takes that big a hit, that the state patrol funding or other critical needs are forced to be cut and education is locked in does not make sense.

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Scott Ford 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Hi PJ – You ask a great question.

Are the students graduating from Steamboat Spring High School ready for college level work? According to the Colo. Dept. of Higher Ed., of the 83 SSHS students entering 2 or 4-year state schools in the fall of 2011, 31% or 26 students were identified as needing remedial support in at least 1 or more subject areas. The count those required to take a remedial classes Math=23 Reading =6 Writing =9 (Some students were identified as need support in more than one subject) For the past 3 years (2009-2011) the yearly average has been in the 31 to 33% range each year.

The statewide average is 40%.

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Kevin Nerney 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Scott, those stats are very interesting. Before I make my real statement it would be interesting to know how many of those 83 actually graduate? I think its criminal the amount of money being spent on the "school system". And I'm not talking about teacher salaries. From high tech, state of the art buildings, ( does the elementary school really need 3 fireplaces?) and a high school campus that puts my college campus to shame, yet the laundry list of supplies required for purchase by the individual student at the start of the school year gets longer and longer. With the amount of money allocated to the "system" each kid should get a Parker Pen for each class. I also think there should be a sunset on school taxes. Lets say a couple gets married, and buys a house. School taxes start right away, yet even if this couple starts a family immediately that kid won't be in school for at least 5 yrs. The kid goes to school for 12 years and the couple live into their 70's. Presumably, these people have paid for 50 years for 12 years of school. What a racket for the "school system." How about the family that sends 7 kids through the "system", like my wife who has 6 siblings. At some point shouldn't we all get a break from the school tax madness? At least we get to stop paying into Social Security at a certain age why can't we stop paying into the "school system" eventually.

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Scott Ford 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Kevin – Once a student enrolls at a college and starts attending – the data that can be accessed publically is associated with the college and no longer identified at the high school level.
At the college level there is two sets of data I like to look at: Year One Fall-to-Fall Retention Rates – This report will reflect students that enrolled in the fall one year and were subsequently enrolled the following fall. Essentially this is first year success rates. In 2011 the CU Boulder retention rate was 84%. For CSU it was 83%. Colorado School of Mines has the highest at 90% and Adams State has the lowest at 54%. For the 2 year schools the highest is Morgan Community College at 61% and Otero Junior College at 46%. Colorado Mountain College is slightly below the middle for the 2 year schools at 50%.

Completion Rates – This report reflects competition data by cohort. At the 2 year schools cohorts are tracked for 4 years and at the 4 year schools students are tracked for 6 years. For example, at CSU the cohort of the fall of 2005 had an entering class of 3,622. At the 4 year mark 37% had graduated at CSU or another state school they transferred to; at the 5 year mark this 63% and at the 6 year mark (2011) it is 70%. Another way to look at this is that 6 years after enrolling at CSU 7 out of 10 will have completed a degree. At Colorado Mountain College the cohort that entered in 2007 at the end of 2 year 26% had completed a degree or certificate; at the end of 4 years (2011) 27% had completed. Another way to look at this is that 4 years after enrolling at CMC a little less than 3 out of 10 will have completed a degree or certificate. We need to keep in mind that this data is only available for the whole CMC system (not Steamboat campus specifically) and students that did not complete a degree or certificate, however, transferred are not included in these numbers.

Kevin - The balance of your question/comments are more philosophical and deal with the public’s commitment to fund public education for the common good of society. This is part of the debate that is occurring nationally. Too late in the evening for me to think about this one.

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