Structure does not dictate education |

Structure does not dictate education

Dear Editor:Concerning upcoming election issues: Did you ever wonder how we managed years ago?As a longtime Aspen resident, I can recall city and county budgets that were under $100,000 a year and salaries that were one-tenth of the present-day pay scale. The original Red Brick school was built from used brick salvaged from the old Washington School at a cost of $44,000, and this building still functions as a community asset today. Certainly a tribute to the frugality of earlier school boards. I attended both elementary and high school in this 65-year-old Red Brick structure. I had the finest of English, science and math teachers who were dedicated to the education of Aspen’s youth.This goes to show that the degree of education cannot be equated with the grandeur or dilapidation of a structure. Rather, it is the motivation of both teacher and student that determines the quality of education received. Abe Lincoln was self-educated in a log cabin, and many Pitkin County residents were educated in one-room schools. Some with poor roofs!All of the ballot questions are tax-related, and are asking for tax increases or the retention of unexpended tax dollars. We support most of the ballot questions, even though they will mean a tax increase for us.We cannot help but wonder why the physical plant of our school buildings were allowed to deteriorate to such a deplorable state of disrepair. Whatever happened to preventative maintenance? This does not speak well for previous school administrations and school boards. When I go into the election booth, my mind will flash back to many midsummer weekends of long ago with all the outdoor floodlights burning at high noon at the Yellow Brick School. Why, I asked myself, could not the school turn off those damn lights? Literally, the school, at that time, had your money to waste.Now, as we face a 33 percent natural gas increase for this winter, with our electric costs going through the roof, we ask the present city, county and Aspen school boards to consider both monetary and energy conservation in their budget deliberations. And please turn the damn thermostats down!To the Aspen City Council: Turn back the pages of time to March 1923, when the total monthly bills for the city amounted to $296.47. Reflect on that bygone era and then ask yourself today, “Do we really need all of this excess?”To the county commissioners: Open space and bike trails are nice, but how many will ride a bike to Aspen on a cold, snowy winter day? What we really need is a decent light-rail transit system, not a congested highway filled with smoke-belching trucks, with their diesel exhaust asphyxiating helpless passengers stuck behind them in traffic at countless stop lights. The future is yours to change. So please change it for the better.Jim MarkalunasAspen

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