John Maloy: Guest opinion
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
As the former assistant superintendent of the Aspen School District and the current superintendent of schools, I understand the obstacles and challenges the district overcame to become exemplary.
The Aspen School District takes pride in its schools, and is revered by most school districts in Colorado 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 allows 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 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 know, this past year the Aspen School District made budget reductions of $1.2 million due in part to decreased revenues from the state. The district anticipates another shortfall of $1.6 million for the 2011-12 school year. As a result of the work done by the district’s budget reduction task force last year, the recommendations to reduce the budget were focused on programs, services and staff. All teachers and staff took two furlough days (days without pay), two support staff members were reduced, and all administrators experienced a pay freeze. Consequently, the district was fortunate in its first year of reductions as the majority of the reductions avoided having a direct impact on the classroom.
Next year, with an anticipated shortfall of $1.6 million, the district will not be as fortunate. With approximately 85 percent of the Aspen School District’s annual budget ascribed to personnel, as is true with most school districts across Colorado and the country, another year of budget reductions will impact teachers, staff and additional programs and services, and will result in a direct impact on the classroom, including increased class sizes.
Therefore, the district is asking the community and its voters to continue their support of the community’s outstanding schools by voting YES on Referendum 3A and approving the $1.35 million Mill Levy Override. Your vote will help the district maintain its dedicated teachers and staff, and the quality programs and services you have stated in recent surveys and polls that you value (e.g., quality teachers and support staff, small class sizes, foreign languages, International Baccalaureate, Outdoor Ed., athletics, college counseling). These items and others are in jeopardy of being reduced if the $1.35 million Mill Levy Override is not approved.
The annual cost of Referendum 3A is about $16 more per $500,000 worth of assessed property valuation. 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 to Referendum 3A.
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