Letter: Keep Aspen’s schools great | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Keep Aspen’s schools great

I’m a proud Aspen High School graduate and now teach music at Aspen Elementary, and I’m encouraging you to vote “yes” on measures 2A in Snowmass Village and 2D in Aspen.

I wrote you a similar letter last year, and some of you are probably thinking, Why does the school district keep asking for more money? But as everyone who pays any attention to current events knows, Colorado stinks at funding education. We rank 42rd in the country in per-pupil spending. In Aspen alone, the state withheld $2.1 million this year! This leaves local districts to make up the difference.

What about all that tax money that marijuana sales are supposed to bring to our schools, you ask? That tax is designated for physical school construction. While that’s important, it does little to solve the daily funding requirements of a school.

Our school district spends money to have small class sizes, keep excellent teachers and offer unique programs, from STEAM to world language to arts. We need to pass these measures for our amazing programs to continue. Also, people keep asking me why we’ve had so much turnover in the district lately. This is because of many factors, pay being one. Without these measures, turnover will surely get worse, as positions and the scale will have to be cut.

If you’re without children, and thinking “why do I care?,” here’s why. A well educated workforce performs more efficiently and capably than one with little education and is key to driving economic development. Educated people are able to think for themselves, to solve problems, and usually live healthier lifestyles. Isn’t that something we all value? Wealthy, healthy people certainly bring a lot of tourist business to Aspen. There are also many people in this community who value the “soft skills” schools teach — the abilities to self-regulate and get along with others. We want well-rounded children and adults in our valley, and schools strive toward that goal.

The costs associated with these ballot measures are minimal. The Aspen measure (2D) simply continues an existing sales tax, so there’s no new cost to it. 2A in Snowmass Village asks for a small additional property tax increase, so if you don’t own property, you don’t pay even a penny more. For those that do, it’s about $40 per $500,000 of property valuation.

Last year, I told you about our Aspen Elementary School choir, which had a record number of students at 150. We rehearse during recess, and our choir is open to second- through fourth-graders, all volunteers. I have 170 kids this year. I don’t say that to brag, but simply to impress upon you that we have 170 students for whom music is so important that they would give up recess time, by choice, to come sing. Your “yes” vote on 2A and 2D can keep them coming to music, giving them the opportunity to find their passion.

Your ballot is in your mailbox — vote “yes” today!

Marnie White