Letter: Addressing community priorities
October 29, 2015
The Roaring Fork School District conducted a series of community meetings in 2013 to ask residents what they wanted in their schools. More than 1,000 people showed up to tell us their priorities: high academic standards, critical-thinking skills, character education, attracting and retaining the best teachers, safety, individualized support for students and experiential learning. The facilities plan before the voters in question 3B perfectly aligns with these priorities.
Readers have questioned the plan to create approximately 50 rental units for district teachers and staff. Does the district want to be in the housing business? No, but we can find no other way to attract the teachers and administrators who are vital to delivering on the community's priorities for its schools. We know from painful experience that we have lost many great teachers and leaders who can no longer afford to stay in the valley, and every principal has been turned down by job candidates who cannot afford to move to our community. We will need to provide housing if we are going to be able to recruit talent and fill vacancies.
The Roaring Fork School District is eager to partner with other employers and civic agencies to address housing needs for all. Is it fair that teachers get priority over police, Fire Department and hospital employees? No, but it is equally unfair to withhold one vital service until the others can arrive. The school district is already engaged in collaborative projects in all three communities around affordable housing for more than teachers. Financing housing to support all of our community's needs is going to happen not with one grand bargain but with incremental steps. Question 3B is an important step to address this vital need.
I am the chief academic officer of the Roaring Fork School District but am writing as a private resident of the community. My No. 1 priority as a public servant is to ensure a great teacher in every classroom and a great leader in every school. Housing is the limiting factor. Please vote "yes" on 3B in support of teachers and schools.