The Aspen Times Editorial: The Aspen School District needs voters’ support
Voters in the city of Aspen and the town of Snowmass Village are being asked to kick a little extra to the Aspen School District, which, along with schools across the state, is facing a funding shortage.
Challenged by a $2.1 million shortfall over the next five years, much of which is due to lower state funding, the Aspen School District is looking to the community for help. In Aspen, voters will decide whether to extend the existing 0.3 percent sales tax — set to expire in December — through Dec. 31, 2021. In Snowmass, where approximately 20 percent of Aspen School District students live, voters will decide whether they’ll contribute to the school funding shortfall via a property tax that would cost each homeowner about $40 for every $500,000 in property value.
It is critical — whether you have children in Aspen schools, are an empty-nester or have no kids at all — that Aspen schools continue to meet the high expectations set by the community.
Some working-class Aspen residents continue to live here — despite it having a significantly higher cost of living than other downvalley towns and communities — because of the exceptional curriculum offered at the schools and the teachers who administer them. Other people move here because of the strong reputation of Aspen’s schools.
A successful school district translates to a strong community — properties maintain their values, students are afforded countless opportunities they aren’t necessarily afforded elsewhere (ExEd classes, the IB program and the Sister Cities exchange program are prime examples), while many of the students make positive impacts on the community both now and when they settle down here.
The Aspen Times editorial board can’t find any reasons compelling enough to not support both of these ballot questions. The shortfall in funding isn’t due to poor budgeting or stewardship by the school board; it’s due in large part to the state’s inability to meet its financial obligations to local school districts.
The Education Week Research Center gave Colorado a D+ in school finance in its 2016 Quality Counts report. Colorado spends roughly $2,500 less per pupil than the national average. Voting to approve these additional funding sources would minimize those impacts going forward.
We urge Aspen and Snowmass voters to support these two taxes in the November elections.
The Aspen Times editorial board consists of Publisher Samantha Johnston, Editor Lauren Glendenning, Managing Editor Rick Carroll and community members Bob Braudis and Kathryn Koch.
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Two Rivers Unitarian-Universalist Church, in conjunction with the Roaring Fork Valley’s Interfaith Council and Sanctuary Unidos, is showing a Zoom presentation of the documentary “Welcome Strangers” at 10 a.m. Sunday.