Reading Joe Kamby's letter to the editor blaming Eagle County Schools Superintendent Sandra Smyser for the reduction in force in teachers reminded me of a comment my 13-year-old daughter made in December.
I was driving my school carpool to Homestake Peak in Eagle-Vail. My car thermometer read minus 15. We passed three boys riding their bikes to school. My daughter was quick to say, "See Mommy, because of you voting to cut transportation, those boys have to ride their bikes to school."
I wish school finance were this easy. My daughter thinking I am responsible for the cuts in transportation is the same as Kamby thinking the superintendent is responsible for teachers losing their jobs.
When I was elected to the board five years ago, we had just passed a bond, our per-pupil funding was increasing a bit each year and I was able to vote to give the teachers a small raise. I was very confused to learn the next year that for the first time in the state's history, they were cutting our per-pupil funding by $557, and the cuts continued for the next three years until we were off $1,308 per pupil.
Because of the budget shortfall at the state, the Eagle County School District has lost several million dollars out of our budget since 2010. We asked the community to support a mill levy to offset these losses, but it was rejected. The staff reductions were devastating and heartbreaking. Being a board member last year was extremely difficult, and some of the cuts we had to vote on literally made me feel sick.
Blaming one person for the state of educational funding in Colorado would make all of our lives a lot easier. Unfortunately, Colorado is 44th in the nation for funding education. Pages and pages of accurate, detailed information on the budget crisis are available at www.greateducation.org.
Meanwhile, we've been very fortunate to have Smyser's leadership, and I hope we continue to have her at the helm of our schools for a long time.
Vice President, Eagle County Board of Education