It’s academic: Vote yes on 3E | AspenTimes.com

It’s academic: Vote yes on 3E

The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Voters in the Roaring Fork School District should know that by voting yes on Question 3E, they’ll be making a wise investment into the future.

The investment would help pay the costs of educating students to the best of the district’s ability, which has been greatly compromised the past few years.

Since 2009, the district’s fiscal crisis forced it to slash $4 million from its budget in the form of reduced salaries and more than 70 layoffs – including 15 teachers. That’s on top of the district losing $5.1million in state revenues. Worse, the district stands to lose another $3 million for the 2012-13 academic year.

The passage of Question 3E, however, would go a long way toward stopping the bleeding. Question 3E is a property tax increase, or a mill levy override, that its proponents say would generate up to $4.8 million a year. For the owner of a $300,000 home, the tax increase would translate to $250 annually.

We believe that’s a nominal cost to invest in our students, but we also understand that these are tough times for many people. Tax hikes are a tough sell, and understandably so.

But the passage of 3E is critical to education in the middle to lower valley. It will make the district more attractive to potential teachers and help retain the ones who currently are there. New books could be purchased; elective programs wouldn’t face the risk of cuts.

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If 3E fails at the polls, all bets are off. The district will be forced to look at even deeper cuts – the futures of school-sponsored sports, field trips and elective classes, among other offerings, would be in jeopardy.

Worth noting is a recent letter in support of Question 3E to this newspaper from Basalt Middle School Principal Jeremy Voss. Despite the massive cuts, the middle school has shown marked improvements in reading, writing and math – recently posting top-five finishes in those categories in the mountain region. The school received the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award in 2010, Voss wrote.

Here we see a school making strides during tough times; it would be a shame to see it lose that momentum because voters rejected 3E. The same can also be said for the district’s other schools.

We encourage Re-1 district residents to vote yes on 3E. Also, remember that this election is mail-in only. Your ballots are due in by Nov. 1.