Preparing our workforce for a strong future
Money doesn’t — and won’t — solve all our problems. But we have an obligation to support our teachers and our school system in order to support our businesses and that costs money. A strong school system is instrumental to the business community and our future workforce.
Vail Valley Partnership’s board of governors believes it is incumbent upon our business community to support Eagle County School District’s mill levy override and bond proposal in the upcoming election. We support these because we know a strong school system is important to our business community and is a necessity for business growth, expansion and relocation. The mill levy and the bond proposal provide support and offer pathways for all students with a clear connection to the needs of the business community. We believe both the mill levy and bond are important — even essential — for the continued success and economic growth of our community.
Cultivating talent is our path forward to ensure the continued growth and success of our business community. Attracting talent isn’t efficient and is often ineffective, due to the transient nature of jobs and exacerbated by our high cost of living, our rural location and our lack of affordable housing. We need to close the achievement gap, listen to what employers need and offer multiple pathways for students.
Building the foundation
This is not somebody else’s job to solve. It’s our job. We need to focus on what’s important to business — and that’s not only fixing schools, but building a strong talent pipeline and a strong school system that acts as the foundation for a strong community.
Specifically, we believe the mill levy override is important as it focuses on attracting and retaining quality teachers and staff (none of the mill levy override would go toward senior administration). This restores staff levels leading to a reduction in class size and restoring programs such as art, music, technology, physical education, and counseling services. The mill levy also supports improvement to early childhood education, and replaces outdated equipment, textbooks and technology.
Our annual workforce study shows highlights the importance and challenge for businesses to keep and retain good employees, and the mill levy increase plays a tangible, important role in teacher and staff retention efforts.
The issues addressed by the mill levy override are not fluff, and the Vail Valley Partnership board believes these are needs and not wants. We appreciate that the obligation to the local community would be reduced should the state meet its funding obligations.
We are equally supportive of the bond proposal for a variety of reasons including the capital expenditures to bring our facilities up to current standards, and the expansion of early childhood facilities. We are enthusiastic about the proposed addition of instructional space at Eagle Valley High School and the development of career academies to meet the needs of our business community. The redevelopment of Eagle Valley Elementary and Eagle Valley Middle schools provides an opportunity to build a campus comparable to other district facilities. Importantly, we appreciate that a citizen committee would be implemented to review the use of proceeds from the bond proposal.
Workforce development efforts, specifically in the skilled trades, need continued focus from our chamber groups such as Vail Valley Partnership and our community partners including Colorado Mountain College and the Colorado Workforce Center. Eagle County Schools has a logical and essential part to play in this, and the bond issue can help address these long-term systemic issues in our community.
Vail Valley Partnership believes we must adequately prepare our students for post-secondary education attainment and 21st century careers to meet the economic challenges of the coming decades. It is why we’re involved and engaged as partners with Eagle County Schools (and the Eagle Valley Rotary Clubs) to host the annual career fair
On a personal note, I am fortunate enough to have the time to volunteer in the schools on a weekly basis with programs such as Junior Achievement and assisting teachers in the classroom. I am able to see firsthand how the mill levy will benefit our teachers, our students and our community. I am able to see firsthand how the bond proposal will benefit our students, our businesses and our workforce development efforts. And I’m an enthusiastic supporter of both issues.
The foundation of any community can be found in its school system. We have the ability to act now to create this foundation. Failure to do so will have a detrimental effect on our business community and workforce development efforts down the road.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, recently named “Chamber of the Year” by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com and find additional information on Vail Valley Partnership’s public policy positions at https://www.vailvalleypartnership.com/advocacy/vvp-public-policy-positions/.
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