School Views: When times are tough
When times are tough, communities have the opportunity to show their true colors. I continue to be impressed by the compassion that surrounds me.
This has been an unusual summer, to say the least. Not only has the pandemic persisted, and with it a continual state of anxiety, social isolation, and economic uncertainty worldwide, but here at home we experienced extraordinary tragedies: dramatic deaths and devastated families, the closure of a cherished community school, wildfires near and far threatened our health and our homes.
In times like these people come together. They search into the night, pray for their neighbors, distribute food to the hungry, toil tirelessly to ensure we can provide an equitable education to all students. Our community is really remarkable.
In the midst of these troubling times, Eagle County Schools are positioned for success. Our local Mill Levy Override funds, granted to us by voters in 2016, are making an impact. Teacher retention and job satisfaction rates are steadily rising. We have increased the number of counselors across the district, which has proved essential.
Our “One to One” technology initiative has been rolled out over the past four years, and positioned us perfectly for last spring’s abrupt switch to remote learning and the hybrid models of instruction currently in use. Our facilities are in excellent condition with environmental and safety upgrades for efficiency and security. None of this would have been possible without local MLO and bond funding.
On the other hand, the future has never been more uncertain. State budget forecasts include significant shortfalls, to the tune of billions of dollars over the next few years, which will certainly impact school budgets. In anticipation of hard times, we trimmed this year’s operating budget by 10% before finalizing it in June. We understand that belts must be tightened, but challenging times mean that our students need more support, not less.
While our MLO isn’t set to expire until 2023, the looming possibility of this funding stream drying up weighs heavily on us. We risk losing so much ground that was hard-earned. In our quest for stability in ever changing times, Eagle County Schools has put forward a ballot initiative — 5B — which will extend our MLO past the sunset date.
No new taxes, just the same taxes you pay now. In 2016, we asked you to give us a chance to show results, to demonstrate how local funding can make a difference at home. I hope you agree, these funds are making an impact.
Please vote yes on 5B for Eagle County Schools, for the kids. Remember, your vote matters and makes a difference you can feel at the local level. Go to efec.org to learn about 5B and how you can help support Eagle County Schools. On behalf of the board of education and the entire ECS community, I thank you for your confidence in our work, for your kindness to others in need, and for making this a great place to live.
Kate Cocchiarella is the president of the Board of Education of Eagle County Schools. Email her at Kate.Cocchiarella@eagleschools.net
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