Letter: Thanks for ensuring quality learning for our kids | VailDaily.com

Letter: Thanks for ensuring quality learning for our kids

Eagle County Schools teachers Katie Leibig and Emily Larsen.

As we enter the holiday season amid the turmoil of COVID-19, the Education Foundation of Eagle County would like to extend our deepest gratitude to this community for continuing to make education a top priority. Local support passed the 5B ballot issue with 72% approval, according to Eagle County precinct reports, ensuring consistent funding for our schools, teachers, staff and students for decades into the future despite what happens with education funding at the state level.

Although the passage of 5B may have seemed like a “no-brainer” because there was no tax increase, rather an extension of funding passed in 2016. For EFEC, the teachers and counselors of Eagle County Schools, and the 16 schools supported by this funding, it is a really big deal. This funding not only ensures budget consistency, but also shows that our community believes our teachers are doing a good job despite constant challenges over the past two decades.

This approval could have taken longer without EFEC’s dedication to advocating for student and teacher needs over the years. Recognizing a dramatic funding shortfall caused by the Great Recession beginning in 2008 that emphasized steady state decline since the 1990s, EFEC first began persistent advocacy in 2011 with the failure of a mill levy that resulted in the loss of more than 90 teacher and staff positions and essential services.

Over the next four years, EFEC focused on engaging and informing our community of the adverse effects caused by the 2011 loss of funding, including much-needed school counselors. The advocacy efforts culminated with the 2016 passing of 3A mill levy funding by 59% approval and 3B funding by 56%.

“This important voter-approved funding has provided consistency for schools and is directly related to the continued improvement of our youth behavioral health services,” said Tessa Kirchner, EFEC board member. “As our district struggles through a recent 10 percent budget cut to accommodate more than $9 million state funding loss from the pandemic-induced economic shutdown, maintaining funding through 5B is crucial for counselor and staff retention and we couldn’t be more grateful to our community.”

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Bottom line: 5B funding will allow for the preservation of smaller class sizes and retention of quality teachers and counselors that was initiated with 3A. Sustaining these positions and services is vital to student behavioral health and overall success.

Wendy Rimel

President and Chair, Education Foundation of Eagle County

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