Vail Daily letter: Teachers need raises | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Teachers need raises

Dear Eagle County residents,

I am an eighth-year teacher in Eagle County Schools with a master's degree. I was given three Educator of the Year awards. I have always received above average scores on all evaluations. My students have had an exceptionally high AP test-passing rate. For four years, I have given my work everything that I have.

I love living in the mountains and understand that you have to sacrifice to live here. What I don't understand is why our teachers are asked to sacrifice so much more than teachers in other expensive ski towns.

Eagle County doesn't do a yearly pay step, so when I was hired with four years of experience I was locked into four-year experience pay; I will continue to get the four-year amount until I retire, presumably. Yes, we are paid for performance on top of that, yet with perfect evaluations and fantastic test scores, I have earned $600 bonus a year for me at most.

The mill levy override would sunset in seven years, during which we are not promised a raise again.

Here is the math of how much more I would make in another ski town with the same amount of work and the same quality of life over the next seven years:

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In Jackson Hole, I would make:

• $27,028 more there now.

• $33,799 more there in my seventh year there.

• $242,956 more there over the course of 7 years.

• Yet the cost of living is 23 percent cheaper in Jackson.

In Telluride, I would make:

• $8,051 more there now

• $14,145 more there in my seventh year

• $88,782 more there over the course of seven years

• Yet the cost of living is 29 percent cheaper in Telluride.

In Steamboat, I would make:

• $4,037 more right now

• $13,499 more in my seventh year

• $69,179 more over the course of seven years

• Yet the cost of living is 35 percent cheaper there.

In Park City, I would make:

• $8,959 more now

• $18,866 more in my seventh year

• $110,799 more there over the course of seven years

• Yet the cost of living is 19 percent cheaper there.

The list goes on.

For me, if this passes, it will likely be about $4,500 more for me a year. We are so far behind that this raise wouldn't even be enough to catch up with the other ski towns around, especially when you consider the years down the road. Yet, we are the most expensive of all these towns. Why would a great teacher look at this and stay? To be brutally honest, reading the information in this chart makes me feel taken advantage of.

From what I can tell, the educators in this county aren't asking for much; frankly, we should be asking for more. I know I am asking myself a lot of questions when I look at these. Like do I want to be 15 years into my career making around $5,000 more than I did in year one? I know I am a much better teacher now. What about year 25?

It's not a matter of "Life's just expensive here." Life's expensive in all those towns. It's a matter of what our community values. I value the children of Eagle County and want to give them my life. I am asking Eagle County to look at the information below, the value of teaching in other ski towns, and decide if they value my life's work. I am asking you to pass the bills for education. From the numbers I am seeing, passing these bills isn't too much to ask.

Katie Smith