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Letters to the editor

editor@vaildaily.com

No to school bonds

Five years ago, the taxpayers narrowly approved a school district bond issue to provide $48 million to the district for new buildings and operating expenses.

Three new schools were built, but contrary to the district’s predictions of a huge new student onslaught, for the last several years there has been just a tiny increase in student numbers overall.



As a result of the district’s miscalculations, fully half of the 12 elementary and middle schools built by this school district are now half-empty; all three of the new schools basically are. These large, very underutilized buildings bleed tons of funds from the district budget for light and heat, staff and expenses.

So, surprise, the district is having money problems and they want another $8.6 million from us in the current bond issue. Meanwhile, over the past four years, even though there’s been no significant increase in student numbers, they have nevertheless spent nearly 30 percent more of our money!



Incredibly, district spending has increased nearly $13 million – 30 percent – from $43,461,025 in 1999-2000 to $56,098,594 in 2002-3.

With virtually no increase in student numbers, where is this huge spending increase going? To run half-empty buildings. Now they demand another $8.6 million in our taxes over two years, half of it for a new bus barn in Gypsum, half for miscellaneous projects.

They claim the bus facility at the district office in Eagle just isn’t big enough. They want to remodel that facility into more district offices to house more highly-paid district officials in an already top-heavy administration. Here is the math: Even though there has been no appreciable gain in student numbers, and none are projected for the next few years – the district predicts there will be TWO new students next year – they have outgrown their bus barn.



Even though this year for the first time, the district is enforcing the 1-mile rule, 1.5 mile for older students, which means hundreds more kids are walking and not taking the bus, they have outgrown their bus barn.

Oh, and even though there has been no appreciable gain in student numbers and no such gain is expected anytime soon, they need more offices for more administrators.

Plus they have the extra added audacity to insist that it isn’t really a tax “increase” – we will just see a “smaller decrease in our property taxes.” You see, for once, our property taxes are actually going down because another large debt, from a 1992 school bond issue, is finally being paid off. But don’t think our school district will let us take a tax breather. No indeedy, they want to slap us with more debt immediately.

So while our your taxes are scheduled to drop $208 for a $400,000 home ($52 per $100,000 in value), if the district gets its way and this new tax passes, we’ll only see a $124 tax reduction for a $400,000 home ($31 per $100,000.)

Here’s a novel concept: How about putting more money into how kids learn and what they learn, into actually improving their education? Year after year, our students chalk up mediocre test scores that barely keep pace with the state average, while our district spends thousands of dollars more per student than the state as a whole. Only one-third of our high school seniors are math proficient, and only half of them have writing proficiency!

For years, our kids have been falling short, particularly in math. Look at the test scores. The longer they go to school here, the worse they do! More bus barns and administration won’t cure the huge problems here.

Stated District Curriculum Director Gary Rito in a Vail Daily interview last July 31 after test results were announced, “There must be something wrong with the curriculum in the district and across the state – we don’t know what’s wrong.” It’s time somebody found out what’s wrong in this district.

Until we can get some ideas and clear direction on academic improvement from these alleged experts, we need to stop feeding the district’s money addiction and their craving for empire building.

Money for bus barns simply isn’t the answer. We just put $48 million into bricks and mortar – that wasn’t the answer.

We need to vote NO on this new school bond Nov. 4. This school district must own up to its past fiscal irresponsibility, make the necessary spending cuts, and live within its budget like the rest of us.

Joy Overbeck

Edwards

Logan will serve well

I am writing to support the candidacy of Kent Logan for Vail Town Council. As the town embarks on an unprecedented public and private reconstruction program, Kent’s 30 years of financial management experience and thoughtful leadership style will well serve the citizens of Vail.

Kent will be a councilman for all of the citizens of Vail. He loves the Vail Valley and has a long history here – he was married by Buck Allen on top of the mountain 18 years ago – but he has no business interests in the town, he is not connected to Vail Resorts, and he is beholden to no special interest group.

Kent understands that we are a diverse community with diverse interests and needs. For the younger members of our community, Kent has publicly expressed that one of his priorities will be to create incentives to keep year-round residents in Vail. This can best be done by creating more and better paid full-time jobs, and Kent has the experience to be able to work with the business community toward that end.

Kent is a fiscal realist – recognizing that we must first seek to shore up our sales tax receipts by addressing such things as retail mix, empty storefronts and crumbling infrastructure – before we propose any increase in property taxes.

Kent understands what it means to develop a strategic plan and then set priorities in accordance with that plan, so that council decisions can be considered logically and analytically and not turn into isolated and rancorous battles.

Kent supports noise abatement, a West Vail Fire Station, and a town government that is efficient and responsive to the citizens – and he opposes outdated and unnecessary regulations that make life difficult for homeowners and business people alike.

The dedicated ladies and gentlemen of the Vail Town Council – made up of seven distinct personalities – will have the responsibility of leading us through a critical period in our history. Complex decisions, with far-reaching consequences, will have to be made. In this election, we have the opportunity to add one personality to the council that is uniquely suited to the difficult task that lies ahead. Kent Logan’s combination of vision, experience, leadership and passion for this community, will serve us well. I urge you to join me in supporting his candidacy.

Alan Danson

Unsolicited praise

My wife and I recently vacationed in Vail and Beaver Creek. Having read your newspaper while we were there, I was extremely impressed with the local and national news coverage you provide. We lived in south Florida for 20 years and now reside in Tallahassee.

Newspapers in south Florida and especially in Tallahassee are hardly worth the paper on which they are printed. They are primarily political rags for a particular point of view.

We found the Vail Daily to be direct, timely and informative without trying to sway the reader to a particular slant.

Congratulations on a wonderful newspaper!

-John Gisler

Tallahassee, Fla.


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