Vail Valley Voices: Let’s keep momentum going for schools
Vail, CO, Colorado
I don’t get to vote in the upcoming school tax election in Eagle County.
A little over a year ago, my wife, Sarah, and I left Eagle County as part of an effort to advance my career. The move paid off for us. I’m now the chief state school officer in Iowa, and Sarah is a proud teacher for Des Moines public schools. Though leaving still breaks our hearts, we get back when we can and continue to own a home in Eagle overlooking the valley.
Eagle County has a lot going for it. As if being one of the most beautiful places on earth and being home to two world-class ski resorts weren’t enough, Eagle County has a school system to be proud of. Being one of the few school districts that can consistently demonstrate both high academic results and rapid student growth, Eagle County Schools can stack up test scores and crunch numbers against any school system in the country.
A kid from any walk of life can go to these schools and will get a top-notch academic education. As recognized by the Colorado Legislature and by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Eagle County’s schools consistently distinguish themselves across the state and the nation for their innovation and results.
National education leaders look to Eagle County for lessons on what a school system should be. These schools are among the nation’s bright spots when it comes to education, and Eagle County should be incredibly proud of its schools.
The academic achievements and accolades are important. But the real value of these schools goes deeper than just high test scores and national acclaim.
Kids in Eagle County have access to an amazing array of sports, music, and art programming. These schools care for the whole child and turn out well-rounded human beings ready for the challenges of this increasingly instantaneous and globally competitive world.
These schools are also the hearts and souls of communities throughout the valley. Dedicated and highly talented teachers and administrators work every day with skilled and hard-working support staff to provide every kid in the valley a safe haven where they can learn, grow and succeed. The people working in these schools are your neighbors and friends, but most importantly they are part of a high performing organization that does amazing things for kids on a regular basis.
Recent years have been tough on our country, on Colorado, and on the valley. The lasting effects of this past recession and the sputtering economy it left behind can weigh heavy on our spirits and our pocketbooks. These times have been tough on schools as well. The school district has gone through staff reductions and pay freezes these past few years. The district tightened its belt with the rest of the county, and learned to do more with less. In spite of the most challenging budgetary times in memory, the school district continues to deliver for kids.
On this year’s ballot, the voters of Eagle County have an opportunity. For a few more dollars a month, voters can protect these schools, the talented and dedicated staff, and the students who depend on them from the damage that will come from further cuts. These schools, people, and kids are worth it and are worthy of protecting.
As a non-resident property owner I don’t get to vote in this upcoming election in Colorado. Eagle County residents, you have the power to raise my property taxes for these schools — effectively, you can use my money (and the money of all non-resident property owners) to do something good for your community and your kids. For my part, I give you permission. The schools in Eagle County are just too important.
Keeping schools like Eagle County’s moving forward is important to the kids, but also important to the future of our country. These schools give us hope and give us an example of what public schools should be.
So come on, Eagle County. Vote to support the tax increase for schools and take my money! Your schools are worth it!
Jason E. Glass, Ed.D., is the director of education for the state of Iowa. He is the former director of human resources for Eagle County Schools and is a property owner in Eagle.