Vail Daily letter: ‘No’ on 3A, 3B
October 26, 2016
Every thinking person with a shred of decency supports teachers and schools. They are tasked with the job of educating the next generation. Without question, it is a civic duty and responsibility to ensure that our children are educated to the best of our ability. Undoubtedly, the recession had an impact on our local schools, and the impacts are still being felt, as they are being felt by all of us. We have all cut back, and trimmed the fat out of our budgets. If the Eagle County School District made a commitment to doing that, instead of continuing to spend as they have done for years, I would have no problem voting "yes" on 3A and 3B.
However, when I look at the spending patterns of the district, I see that they continue to eat out on our dime — sushi restaurants, meals for the board of directors meetings, pizza at the drop of a hat — incredible amounts of money are not going to the students or to the teachers. I see that we are purchasing phone cases and chargers for employees, as well as paying for their cell phone bills. I see Hyatt hotel stays, rather than budget options. I see golf outings, and clubhouse meals. While some will argue that these sorts of expenditures are the cost of doing business, I contend that they are excessive — especially when you are asking the taxpayers to pick up the tab.
Recently, I saw a photo of an entire recycling Dumpster full of chairs outside of one of the local high schools. They didn't hold up as well as they thought that they should have, and were becoming dangerous, so they were being returned for partial credit. Why wasn't the durability of aluminum chairs thoroughly researched before they were purchased and put into a high school? Why were they recycled, rather than donated to a worthy cause?
Numerous postcards have been mailed out urging citizens to vote "yes" on these tax increases, citing the need for more money in order to hire and retain quality teachers. In an article that appeared in the Vail Daily, Dr. Glass stated that "teachers are not guaranteed any additional salary increases in these proposals." It would appear then, the postcards are misleading. In another recent Vail Daily article, Superintendent Dr. Glass stated that turnover under his leadership is down from where it was when he took over, and is now below the national average. Which is it? We need more money to retain teachers, or our turnover rate is below the national average so that shows that we're doing something right?
I have spoken to many employees of the district, and all of the people to whom I have spoken have said that teachers don't leave the district because of the pay. Most of the teachers leave because morale is low. The system in place doesn't make them feel valued or appreciated. They leave because they are afraid to speak up for themselves, or to speak out against the current administration, for fear of retaliation. No amount of your money is going to fix that.
If the Eagle County School District can eliminate excess spending, show the us that even with budgets that are as unforgivingly trimmed as those that the taxpayers have, and change the culture at the administrative level, then I would consider voting "yes" to a tax increase and mill levy override. Until that time, however, I will vote a resounding "no" on both 3A and 3B — not because the teachers don't derserve to be funded, but because an arrogant and undeserving administration who treats the taxpayers like a blank check does not.
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