Academics are at stake |

Academics are at stake

Dear Editor:

I teach music at Aspen Elementary School. I’m writing to you today to ask you to support the Aspen School District and schools around the state on Nov. 3. There are several items on the ballot that are crucial for continuing the level of excellence in education we have enjoyed here in Aspen.

Referendum 3A asks for an increase in the mill levy, money that will go directly to the school district to support classroom programs. As you may have heard, the district had to cut almost $1.2 million from its budget last year. While this was hard enough, we are looking at losing an additional $1.6 million next year, which will be even worse. Cutting enough to make up such a massive budget gap can only be accomplished by eliminating staff and programs, including the possibility of cutting Outdoor Education, athletics, visual and performing arts programs, the International Baccalaureate program at the high school, foreign language, and the small class sizes our students currently enjoy.

As an alumnus of the Aspen School District, the thought of having gone through my school years without programs such as Outdoor Ed., band and choir, and theatre would have been intolerable. I’m sure that if you think back over your own schooling, some of those sorts of programs (sports, advanced classes, foreign language, and field trips) are the things you treasure most. Even if you don’t have kids here in the school district, the kids who are here will be our future doctors, lawyers, politicians, business people, and teachers – how can we expect them to be good future community members without a strong education?

The increase the district is asking for requires a small commitment from each property owner (only $16 per year for $500,000 of assessed value), but will have a massive impact on the quality of education in Aspen. Please vote “yes” on Referendum 3A.

Additionally, there are three items on the ballot on which I urge you to vote “no” – Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101. These misguided attempts to control and “reform” taxes will spell disaster for our state. They will eliminate literally thousands of jobs around the state, including at many schools. Prisons and libraries will close, roads will fall into worse disrepair, bridges will not be inspected, and college tuition at in-state schools will become even more unaffordable. I realize that this sounds like a doomsday scenario, and I wish I could tell you that I was exaggerating. Unfortunately, this is simply reality.

While proponents of these measures have touted these as tax “cuts” that will help families and small businesses, they are not. They also claim that the state spends too much money on frills – I don’t know about you, but I don’t consider roads and bridges, libraries, schools, and prisons frills. Passage of these measures will cause a financial crisis unseen in Colorado. Please vote “no” on Amendments 60 and 61, and Proposition 101.

Marnie White


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