Vail Daily letter: Local money supporting local jobs | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Local money supporting local jobs

Local money supporting local jobs

Thank you for your school budget transparency story (“New school budget includes bond dollars,” Tuesday, June 20). As an advocate for education in our community, I’m extremely impressed with how our local citizens stepped up to support a living wage for our teachers. Seeing as how Eagle County Schools is the second largest employer in Eagle County, if we want our community to continue to thrive, then this is the responsible approach to make it happen — local money supporting local jobs.

As Chris Romer, of the Vail Valley Partnership, so eloquently presented in his op-ed (“Family retention key to economic growth in Colorado’s communities,” Friday, June 23), “Rural communities outside the Front Range often have a difficult time retaining younger generations for several reasons including wage, education and social issues. Communities depend on younger, more educated workers and leaders to grow and survive.”

This includes our students and teachers. We need put forth our absolute best effort to attract and retain our most qualified educators and produce thoughtful, well-educated citizens into our community.

Highly educated, experienced teachers are a must to produce global-ready students into our local workforce. The funding that our community approved is proof that we, as a collective, understand and support our district’s strategic plan for educating our students who will, in many cases, join our local businesses and help our community to continue to thrive.

We could have never predicted the state would rework its education funding formula at the eleventh hour to stop the cuts that appeared to be inevitable in January. Because of informed voters, Eagle County Schools was prepared to be hit; yet at the last minute, Colorado education was shown some grace. This, in my opinion, is a small bonus to a system that has taken a beating for decades.

It may seem like our educators and school support staff are getting a lot with the 1 percent pay raises coming on the heels of the 11 percent increase in January from the straightforward way Randy Wyrick presented the facts, but he was slightly remiss in not mentioning that our educators are merely getting back to 2009 wages. Additionally, we should shed some light on the teacher shortage that is plaguing our state.

A December 2016 Denver Post article, “Teacher shortage in Colorado is worsening, according to state report” stated, since 2010, for six consecutive years, the number of teacher graduates from Colorado schools has dropped 24.4 percent. Great Education Colorado featured a 2016 report from http://www.schoolfundingfairness.org stating, “Colorado ranks last in the nation on providing teachers a competitive wage.”

Not only is there a lack of teachers entering the Colorado workforce; experienced teachers are leaving to obtain a livable working wage elsewhere.

The new positions created by 3A within our district will bring our staffing back to reasonable levels for promoting student success — if we can get quality educators to fill them.

Amy Lewis

Executive director, Education Foundation of Eagle County