Our community has the important responsibility of educating our children – an investment in their future – which proves to be an investment in ours as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the more education citizens have, the higher their income; the lower their rate of unemployment. Quality schools improve property values according to the National Bureau of Economic Research: “For every dollar a community spends on public schools, home values increased $20,” and educated citizens tend to be more active participants. “Good schools” is frequently cited as a criteria families and businesses consider when deciding to relocate.
As a retired educator, I believe public education has received a bad rap. I taught with amazing teachers; creative and dedicated to educating and shaping the lives of the young people they taught. I know many of today’s teachers who are of the same caliber.
Last year, MCHS had three Boettcher scholarship recipients, of only 42 awarded annually by one of the oldest and most prestigious merit-based scholarships in the state. District graduation rates have increased 20 percent in the last five years. MCHS has expanded Advance Placement and Concurrent Enrollment classes for students, offering 27 college credit classes. Additionally, 11 Career Technical Education programs prepare students for work opportunities immediately out of high school. We’ve had students go to Harvard, University of Colorado, Regis, and the Air Force Academy. Local graduates became doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers; many have returned home to raise their families and contribute to this community. We’ve accomplished this while serving a student population with a 59.9 percent free or reduced lunch rate and ever-diminishing revenues – a $23.3 million decrease since 2009.
Local schools have struggled financially in recent years, making it difficult to hire and retain good teachers, maintain facilities, replace aging buses and outdated technology. When I began my teaching career in Cortez in 1976, we had a stable faculty, and I taught with many of the same quality staff for decades. Today, RE-1 turnover is high – an average rate of 20 percent every year. Sometimes a position will be filled repeatedly before a final contract is signed because individuals have found a position with a district paying a substantially higher salary. Having one of the lowest base salaries in Colorado is making it impossible to compete for the great teachers our students deserve.
District revenues cannot keep up with current needs, and without relief, school finances, especially in less wealthy rural areas, will continue to fall behind. Amendment 73 may not be a perfect bill, but it will generate an additional $1,541 per pupil for RE-1 while stabilizing property taxes earmarked for schools. To learn how Amendment 73 will impact you, go to https://cosfp.org/impactcalculator/.
FDR said, “We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.” Good schools help our children for the future, and good schools take money. Won’t you join me in voting YES on Amendment 73?
Mayor of Cortez