Support Roaring Fork Schools by voting yes for 5B

I am writing to urge voters to support 5B this November to honor our exceptional teachers and staff in the Roaring Fork Schools.

As the CEO of Mountain Family Health Centers, and as a resident of the Roaring Fork Valley with children in the Roaring Fork Schools, I regularly see the impact that high-quality teachers have on our community, our staff and on my family.

Our children attend the Riverview K-8 school, and last week my wife and I were able to experience a bi-lingual “super scholar” ceremony with our children at the school. Each time we enter the school, I’m struck by the bi-cultural joy, learning and energy vibrating throughout.

Unfortunately, we know our schools and teachers are in a staffing crisis. Year after year, we explain to our children why their favorite teacher moved away from the district. The teacher’s spouse couldn’t find a job to support ballooning rent. Daily commutes from Rifle became too much to bear. Family health insurance was much more reasonable back in Denver. Like a broken record, we repeat to our children why their heroes loved teaching but couldn’t afford to live in the community they serve.

The data tells the story directly. We live in the third highest cost of living school district in Colorado. RFSD ranks in the bottom one-third statewide in per pupil state funding. Seventy-five percent of teachers in the district work two jobs to make ends meet. All of the neighboring school districts in have passed voter-approved mill levy overrides, meaning our neighboring districts are able to provide more competitive compensation to teachers compared to the Roaring Fork Schools.

The 5B mill levy override will support the Roaring Fork Schools in being able to offer teachers a living wage by increasing property taxes costing average homeowners approximately $3.50 per month per $100,000 of home value.

As our schools face persistent teacher shortages and severe educational service reductions, this is an investment in our children, teachers and schools we can’t afford not to make.

I ask our community to vote yes on 5B.

Ross Brooks

Glenwood Springs