Letter: Aspen education at risk
October 21, 2015
I am writing to ask you to vote "yes" on ballot issue 3A. As the new executive director of the Aspen Education Foundation, I urge you to consider the following:
The state is not meeting its obligation to fund our school district. Colorado is ranked 43rd, trailing some of the poorest states in the country, in funding for education. In Aspen, we are at a critical point: The school district will be forced to operate with a $1 million shortfall in 2016-17, increasing every year, if something isn't done.
Consider that Alaska spends approximately $18,175 per pupil and Colorado spends $8,647. Even with adequate state funding, sustaining a high-standard school district is a financial challenge. In recent years, we have been able to create high-performing public schools. Now our situation is in jeopardy.
Consider that 3A would provide Aspen schools approximately $991,000 annually via a property tax. The cost to property owners would be $30 per $1 million or $3 per annum for every $100,000. This bears repeating: $30 annually for every $1 million — a lunch at your favorite spot in town.
Consider that families move to Aspen from places such as New York City and Los Angeles, often removing their children from high-performing, independent schools. They feel comfortable doing so because the quality of our school district provides critical educational support to our children in realizing their potential. Quality education in a community also impacts the greater community in numerous and valuable ways, from property values to commercial growth. In addition, quality education provides families a foundation in their daily lives that is essential to healthy family experiences, reaching families of all economic backgrounds.
I look forward to a time when government can show commitment to children and education through adequate, dependable support for every district, every teacher and every child in our nation. Until then, we rely on creative community solutions, such as taxes and philanthropy, to help fill the ever-increasing gap.
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We all have a stake in our children in Aspen and the quality of the educational opportunities in Aspen. Let's not let the children of Aspen down. Please vote "yes" on 3A.
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