Vail Daily letter: ‘Yes’ on 3A, 3B
October 14, 2016
Some ballot issues these days look like they're written by lawyers paid by the syllable. Of course the state has lots of requirements of ballot language, particularly when it comes to fiscal and tax measures, that result in linguistic gymnastics. Case in point, local ballot measures 3A and 3B.
These are two funding requests from Eagle County Schools that would each be paid through our property taxes. Reading each can feel like mentally untangling fishing line. You'll find a regular human translation of each at YESforECS.org, but along with this legal convolution, a very important fact is lost: Both of these measures are critical to Eagle County Schools.
3A is to fund ongoing operations — things like attracting and retaining quality teachers, reducing class sizes, and restoring programs. 3B funds a bond that would go to capital investments. This is bricks and mortar stuff such as safety and security upgrades for all schools and expansion or reconstruction of some schools.
I have heard some folks feeling warmer toward one than the other, but let me explain why both matter so much. Let's say, for example, that only the operations measure (3A) passes. That would leave the district with deteriorating facilities, a still unsecure environment and a continuance of the break/fix maintenance mode the district has had to employ since the Great Recession. These increasing operating expenses directly affect funding for the classroom. We don't end up at square one again, but we definitely don't get what we were hoping for in terms of funding for actual education. Sad face.
Similarly, if the bond passes and the operations measure fails, then we will have safe, quality facilities but will continue to lose quality teachers to other districts. Furthermore, class sizes will continue to grow and programs such as art, music and physical education will not be restored.
Both measures matter … a lot.
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Colorado's unique fiscal architecture and school funding structure are largely responsible for our abysmal ranking in public education funding among states (by any measure, the bottom 20 percent). And while the state is not likely to solve its fiscal fubar any time soon, ballot issues 3A and 3B give Eagle County residents greater opportunity to fund public education at the same level we value it.
When your ballot arrives in the mail, fill it (literally) from the bottom up: Please vote "yes" on both 3A and 3B to invest in our own community.
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