Yes on 5B will help slow RFSD teacher flight
Recently I received another farewell email from a fellow teacher. Over the past few years I’ve seen several of these, and they all say pretty much the same thing: “Everyone has been great to work with, but I just can’t make it here financially.” These messages are sad for any educator losing a colleague, but I feel guilty because for eight years I’ve been involved in Interest Based Bargaining for teachers, and I wonder if I’ve disappointed my community by not finding ways to retain them.
We have tried though. The last Roaring Fork School District ballot initiative saw voters approve a bond issue, part of which launched a teacher housing program. I have no doubt that without it our current staffing shortages would be even worse. But bonds are for capital improvements, not salaries, so the IBB committee researched the issue and identified three factors restricting the competitiveness of our pay scale.
The first obstacle is health insurance costs, already addressed with local clinics specific to our provider, there’s not much else we can do about this widespread issue. Second is student-teacher ratios, so three years ago teachers sacrificed class size and instructional supports to have similar ratios to other districts. At the same time the district office moved $160,000 from their annual budget to teacher salaries. But still we don’t pay what comparable districts do, not to mention the valley’s high cost of living. The third factor holding us back is that those other districts have maximized their local Mill Levy Override. So now we are asking you to vote yes on 5B.
After years of exploring and implementing various incentive programs and cost-cutting solutions, this is our last best hope, there are no better options. I worry that someday I might find myself saying goodbye to friends, colleagues, and students because I can no longer ignore the financial strain of raising a family on a teacher’s salary in this valley. But my bigger concern is for the children of this community if programs have to be cut or quality educators are no longer here. Please vote yes on 5B.