5B will lift RFSD | AspenTimes.com

5B will lift RFSD

As the operator of our local ski areas, I can tell you that if my customers had to wait an hour for the bus, we’d lose them. But right now, we’ve got kids waiting that long for the school bus because there are not enough drivers. The Roaring Fork School District started the year with nearly 60 positions unfilled.

One reason the district is struggling with staffing: it receives the lowest amount of per-pupil funding from voters in the area — even Garfield County Re-2 and Re-16 get more. RFSD is funded in the bottom third of school districts in the state. We’ve got to change this. And we can, right now, by voting yes on ballot issue 5B.

5B will increase salaries for teachers and bus drivers, custodians and lunch workers, on average 10% to 12%. Raises won’t go to any senior district employees. The pay bump will help recruit and retain the best candidates and avoid losing them to neighboring districts that are more affordable and pay more. Right now, three out of four teachers turn down job offers because of the cost of living. And another 75% of teachers on staff work two or more jobs.

5B would levy a small tax on residential and commercial properties, including some of Aspen Skiing Co.’s buildings, amounting to about $218 annually for every half million in home value. This is a critical and worthwhile investment. We all want to live and work in a place with the best possible schools, and 5B helps ensure that outcome.

Mike Kaplan