Newly formed Aspen education fund takes its first steps

Jeanne McGovern
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – The wheels are in motion for a voter-approved sales tax for public education to begin benefiting kids.

Last week, the newly created Aspen Public Education Fund met for the first time to set up the infrastructure for what will be a 501(c)3 nonprofit charged with overseeing and distributing the sales tax collections.

Aspen residents in November approved a 0.3 percent sales tax increase, with 53.16 percent of voters in favor of the measure. The tax increase will raise an estimated $1.75 million annually for the financially challenged Aspen School District.

Under an intergovernmental agreement between the city of Aspen and the Aspen School District, which has been executed by both parties, the independent education fund is now the entity officially tasked with carrying the ball forward.

According to fund President Laura Kornasiewicz, Tuesday’s meeting comprised mostly “housekeeping,” including the approval of articles of incorporation, the approval of bylaws and the election of officers. Those officers include Kornasiewicz, Vice President Jeanne Doremus, Secretary Sarah Chase Shaw and Treasurer Susan Marolt. Other board members, who were elected by voters when the tax measure passed, are Robin Hamill, Ernie Fyrwald and Peter Van Domelen.

Kornasiewicz said she anticipates the first meeting between fund board members and Aspen School District officials to take place in late April. In the meantime, “We are also preparing to educate fund board members on the district’s financial position as we know more about what the state of Colorado will be doing with school finance,” she said.

Proponents of the measure, which was initially brought forth by the Aspen Education Foundation, say funds collected through the sales tax will allow the Aspen School District to maintain its current program and staffing levels in the face of state budget cuts to education.

The tax will expire in four years.


Professional dancers return to Aspen to perform in ‘The Nutcracker’

Roaring Fork Valley natives Emily Ridings and Nikki Ferry have come full circle when it comes to dance. Both studied dance with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (ASFB) as kids, continued their training with other prominent schools, and now return this weekend, as ASFB presents “The Nutcracker” at Aspen District Theater.

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