Guest column: Support the Aspen Schools, vote yes on Referendum 3A
As superintendent of schools for the Aspen School District, I understand the obstacles and challenges the district has overcome to become an exemplary school district. The Aspen School District takes pride in its schools and is revered by districts in the state and nation for its commitment to the pursuit of academic excellence, its education of the whole child and its ability to attain academic excellence while providing a variety of learning experiences that allow children to maximize their potential.
The rise to an outstanding school district does not happen by accident, nor does it happen overnight. It happens with board and administrator leadership, teacher and staff dedication, community support and parent involvement over an extended period of time. Having served in public education for over 30 years, I have observed that this synergy doesn’t come easily in most school districts and is rarely sustained when it does occur, especially when issues of budget shortfalls exist from year to year, causing potential teacher cuts and quality programs and services to be reduced.
As many may recall, the Aspen School District made budget reductions of approximately $2 million due in large part to decreased revenue from the state during the recession in 2009. The district has been able to backfill some of this shortfall with the voters’ approval of the city of Aspen sales tax that is set to expire in December 2016. Most recently, state funding promised to our school district under Colorado’s School Finance Act have not been appropriated, and there is no reason to believe the State will meet its obligation in the future. As a result, the district is facing a budget shortfall of approximately $1 million for the 2016-17 school year and approximately $4 million during the next five years.
Therefore, the district is asking the community and its voters to continue their support of the community’s outstanding schools by voting “yes” on ballot issue 3A and approving the $991,000 mill-levy override. Your vote will help the district maintain its dedicated teachers and support staff and the quality programs and services you have stated in recent surveys and polls that you value (e.g., small class sizes, broad program offerings, International Baccalaureate, outdoor and experiential education, art, instrumental music, theater, robotics and aeronautics). Successful passage of the mill-levy override, along with the renewal of the city of Aspen sales tax and Snowmass Village’s to-be-determined financial contribution, would prevent the need to implement budget-reduction measures that could negatively impact the quality education the community has stated it values and supports.
The annual cost of ballot issue 3A is about $3 for each $100,000 of property value. The children of this community are worth this investment. An investment in our schools and our children is an investment in the future of the community. Please support our schools and help maintain the excellence that you have come to expect and appreciate. Remember: Great schools contribute to a great community.
Support the Aspen schools by voting “yes” on ballot issue 3A.
John Maloy is the superintendent for the Aspen School District.
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