Melissa VanArsdale: Pay it forward | SteamboatToday.com

Melissa VanArsdale: Pay it forward

— 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

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– 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 http://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