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COVID-19 shutdown reduces budget for Eagle County Schools

The Eagle County School District adopted its budget for the coming school year at the June 24 Board of Education meeting. The impact of the prolonged shutdowns across the state dramatically reduced funding for public education.

The school district’s budget stabilization reduction more than doubled, from a $4.6 million subtraction last year to $9.6 million being subtracted this year. In addition, the state’s share of funding declined nearly $4 million ($3.9M). The school district’s conservative planning and spending, plus the consolidation of an east end elementary school have allowed the district to adjust while preserving current staffing levels. COVID-19 related stimulus funding is earmarked for COVID-related expenses and cannot be used to backfill budget shortfalls. The district’s operational budget is down a total of $3.9 million, a 4.5% reduction.

“The amount subtracted by the budget stabilization factor is the largest it has ever been, exceeding the annual reductions from the previous recession,” explained Chief Operating Officer Sandy Mutchler. “The way in which TABOR works means it will take a decade or more to return to last year’s funding level and we will never see the $75 million taken from our funding since the 2009-10 school year.”

The budget stabilization factor is an accounting tactic that state legislators invented during the recession that started in 2008. The School Finance Act and Amendment 23 create a funding formula that determines each school district’s per pupil revenue level. When the prescribed amount exceeds the state’s investment threshold for public education, it subtracts the amount it withholds. The amount on a statewide level exceeds $1 billion since the recession. The amount withheld from Eagle County School District is $75.9 million.

The 3A mill levy passed in 2016 by local voters helps offset the state’s decline in funding. When passed, the mill levy included a sunset in 2023, in part because it was thought state funding would stabilize and return to pre-recession levels. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening. The philosophy at the state is to shift more of the funding requirement to the local level. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, several bills had been introduced for mill levy standardization and maximization.Currently, a few initiatives, endorsed by the Board of Education, are up for voter consideration that could help stabilize public education funding.

“To balance our budget, all departments in the district reduced their budgets by an average of twenty percent,” Mutchler said. “We consolidated an east end school, adjusted policy on our required reserves, delayed or suspended programs and projects, and managed to maintain staffing levels. These are significant belt-tightening measures.”

The budget includes the annual negotiated agreement with the Eagle County Education Association as required by the collective bargaining agreement. In the agreement, staff contributions to PERA increases by 1.25%. To offset this increase, staff pay will increase 1.9% (the Consumer Price Index of Denver) which keeps take home pay fairly even with last year. The district will also have increases in the employer PERA contribution share and will absorb any increase in insurance expenses.

Government entities use fund-based accounting principles where each fund is designated for a specific purpose. The General Fund includes the on-going operational expenses of the district and is the focus here.

Letter: Kudos to Vail Recreation District for Hill Climb

I would like to send out a big thank you to the Vail Recreation District for an outstanding job of planning, organizing, and carrying out the Vail Hill Climb on July 4. This year was the 37th year for the event. Even though it was different (and yes longer this year) it was still a very successful event. 

I’m sure everyone at VRD (especially Kip, Beth, Joel, and MIke) spent a lot of time planning and organizing this special event. The circumstances this year were very different and difficult. In spite of all these difficulties, VRD did a commendable job in all areas of the race. Thank you and please know that all your hard work is appreciated.                                                   

Marlin Smickley


Moore: We were created to be free

As close as it is to Independence Day, I thought we could talk about freedom. Specifically, freedom as seen in the rich cultural world of classic rock ‘n’ roll.  The songs abound, such as “Freewill” by Rush, “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty, “Free Ride” by the Edgar Winter Group, “Philadelphia Freedom” by Elton John, and of course, “I’m Free” by The Who. 

There are also songs that don’t use the word specifically but scream freedom from their soul. I’m thinking of “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen and “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf.  I’d throw in 1966’s “Born Free” but I think that’s outside our genre. 

If you grew up in the South like me, you may have signed that petition to make “Free Bird” the new national anthem. Can I get a witness? Bringing in the world of roots reggae, a deep well is Bob Marley’s box set “Songs of Freedom” which includes the live recording of “Redemption Song,” recorded at Marley’s last concert in 1980.

Sitting in the dark 106 miles from Chicago with a full tank of gas, wearing sunglasses, the great anthem of the even greater Aretha Franklin comes to mind. “Think” was released as a single in 1968 and stands as one of the most heartfelt cries of my generation, whether or not you are a fan of the Blues Brothers. I don’t know, but I’ve got to think George Michael had Aretha in his ears has he wrote his own classic “Freedom! 90.” Freedom, freedom, freedom! Aretha and George, we salute you.

But at the top of my freedom playlist is Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee.” For your trivia notes, what is one of only two songs to be posthumously released and become No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart? You may think she wrote “Me and Bobby McGee,” and I’m of course referring to the iconic Janis Joplin. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

Why is freedom so ingrained in the desires of our hearts? In this time of crippling partisanship, in which people disagree about so many things, we all desire freedom. Both the desire for freedom, and the desire to take it away from others, are at the heart of virtually every conflict in human history. For a species who has to continually strive to preserve this most precious of values, why is it even our value in the first place?

As a person of faith, I respectfully submit that humanity craves freedom because we were created to be free. Don’t take my word for it, I defer to the founders of our country. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

As a follower of Christ, I respectfully submit that we are created to be free because freedom is an essential value of God himself. There’s an interesting dynamic found in the New Testament, where on the one hand we see an unapologetic declaration of the freedom given by Christ.  The Apostle Paul declared “I am free and belong to no man!” And yet, he followed that statement by saying “I have made myself a slave to everyone.” In other words, Paul’s desire for people to come to know the freedom of God led him to surrender — when necessary — his own freedom before God.

Another interesting New Testament twist is its identification of one the greatest threats to freedom. Again, Paul declared “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” The “yoke of slavery” here is not the big bad immoral world … it is the temptation of pride, empty religion, and legalism.

We were created to be free, and the only value greater than our personal freedom is the God given love of our fellow man, woman, and child.  As we the people wrestle with so many issues, the reality of freedom lived out of love is not one we should set aside.

I’ll end with the great Pete Townshend, quoting from The Who’s masterpiece “Tommy.”  “I’m free. I’m free! And freedom tastes of reality.  I’m free … I’m free! And I’m waiting for you to follow me.”

Reminds me of words spoken by another cultural rebel some 2000 years earlier.  “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed… follow me!”

Live free everyone.  And also … rock on.

Armijo: Achieving true freedom

As we complete another Independence Day, I often question if we are truly free in this world. We definitely have more opportunities available to us in our American society, but are we free? We are supposed to be the most intelligent species on this planet yet we are charged for food, shelter, and basic necessities. There will be those who argue that it is how a functioning society should work. However, we know many past societies had very different economies.

There is no right or wrong way to live, but there are definitely better ways to live our own lives. There are ways to be truly free in this life that do not require drastic measures to reach. Freedom begins within our own selves.

Freedom begins by breaking through our current programming. We must understand that we have been programmed from birth to believe ideas that have shaped our current lives. The programming we have received has shaped our thoughts about race, money, government, relationships, etc. Outside programming has affected every aspect of our current lives. This programming has come from our guardians, teachers, coaches, mainstream media, movies, music and anything we see or interact with on a consistent basis.

When we realize that we have been controlled by outside programming since birth, we can begin to take control back. It begins by understanding all things in our life are present because we have allowed them to be. Whether we live abundant lives or live in poverty, it is a product of our programming. Most of us have just taken whatever comes to us and reacted to it.

When we take control back we become proactive to all the messaging in the world and can decide to consciously accept it or reject it. For example, if you believe that our society should take care of all humans in need but see messages in the media that attempt to belittle them as lazy or second tier members of society, you can choose to accept the messaging or reject it. Most people will just get angry at the messaging because it does not align with their values, but this response is just wasted energy

Almost every religion tells us that we are the creators of our own universe, yet many people just take this as “lip service” and will never put it into practice. Quantum physics has added a layer of scientific evidence to back up the idea of us (humans) being creators in this world. Quantum physics has proven that our thoughts are constantly creating the world around us. In fact, without thought the universe would cease to exist.

We can find freedom within ourselves when we realize our potential. We can choose to tune out the noise of the mainstream media and create thoughts that better serve our purpose. Freedom is our ability to take full control of our own lives, to think as we want to think and not as we are told to think, and to pursue our passions without worrying about the standards society has set forth.

Our freedoms in this country are available because of the sacrifices of previous generations. We should honor them by creating a better world for our future generations. Each of us must begin within to make the changes we wish to see. If we are tired of seeing negativity highlighted on the nightly news, turn it off. There are a few dozen small websites dedicated to only positive news stories. If we are not passionate about our career and are tired of living in misery, then change it to something you are passionate about. Yes, it is that easy.

How many more years are you going to live in worry and fear because you believe everything the mainstream media feeds you? How much longer are you going to work at a place that is not fulfilling? How long are you going to stay in a relationship that is not satisfying? Now is the time for change.

You have the freedom to decide to live your best life or to live one that has been designed by others. True freedom is available to all. It lies within us and we are the only ones who can access it. We must be grateful we live in a society that affords us so many opportunities and honor it by living our fullest lives.

Mazzuca: Does history repeat itself?

Writer/philosopher George Santayana once posited, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” The phrasing itself is catchy; but more importantly, it’s true. And if history is driven by human nature, which it is, then this saying ought to guide our public and private policy.

During World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin, who were collectively known as “The Big Three,” met only twice; but their decisions changed the course of history. The first time they met was in Tehran in 1943 when Stalin expressed concern about Roosevelt’s health; they met again a year and a half later at Yalta in the Crimea.

The British goal at Yalta was to maintain their empire, the Soviets wanted additional lands and to solidify their position in lands already wrested from the Nazis, while the United States wanted Stalin to enter the Pacific war to discuss postwar settlement and gain a commitment from Stalin to participate in the United Nations after the war.

Meanwhile, and unbeknownst to Roosevelt, Stalin had already decided to declare war on Japan because he wanted both additional territories in Asia and to reverse Russia’s humiliating defeat during the Russo-Japanese War 40 years earlier and to join the United Nations. 

While Roosevelt could not have known Stalin’s intentions towards Japan, many historians argue that a healthy Roosevelt should have at the very least surmised the Soviets would join the United Nations vis-à-vis the already-agreed-upon voting formula giving veto power to the Security Council’s permanent members, thus giving Stalin the influence he wanted over world affairs.  Nonetheless, more than anything else, Stalin’s No. 1 priority at Yalta was control over Poland to use as a buffer between Russia and it historic enemies, which included acquiring lands from eastern Poland in exchange for free elections; a promise he failed to honor.

Unaware of Stalin’s intentions, Roosevelt made a number of fateful decisions at Yalta, or as some historians assert, one-sided compromises.  Some believe Stalin’s poker face enabled him to pull the wool over Roosevelt’s eyes; other historians argue Roosevelt’s enfeebled condition (newsreels document how the president couldn’t even shake hands with other dignitaries without using a support for his right arm) was the real reason Stalin was able to extract concessions from the president.

Still, Roosevelt felt the conference was a success because the Big Three had ratified their agreements about the postwar Germany and Berlin. But hindsight is always 20-20, and looking back, we see clearly the most significant consequence of the decisions and concessions made at Yalta was that hundreds of millions Eastern Europeans would be brought under the yoke of communism behind an “Iron Curtain” for nearly half a century.

This isn’t a criticism of FDR; his place in history is assured, nonetheless, it has been argued one man’s deteriorating health resulted in the demographic catastrophe that enslaved millions after WWII. And with a presidential election looming, we would be wise as a nation to examine the political acumen and more importantly the physical and mental stamina of the two men running for the office.

The President of the United States is the leader of the free world. His decisions regarding, North Korea, Iran, Russia, ISIS, Iranian militias, Syria, al-Qaeda, NATO, International Trade, Tariffs, Energy Independence and of course, China — always China, will affect the world for years to come.  And that’s what’s truly at the center of this election and certainly a topic worthy of discussion lest we allow history to repeat itself.

Thought for the day: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar recently urged former Vice President Joe Biden to pick a woman of color for his running mate.  C’mon, does anyone believe if Senator Klobuchar’s only daughter, Abigail, needed a heart transplant the senator’s priority would be finding a female heart surgeon of color?

Mind Springs Health resumes in-person therapy

Mind Springs Health outpatient offices, with locations in Vail, Eagle and Glenwood Springs, will once again offer in-person therapy sessions to new and existing clients in need of mental health support.

After launching virtual therapy sessions in March, Mind Springs Health has found that many clients are preferring telehealth over in-person therapy due to convenience and efficiency.

Anyone seeking an appointment, whether in-person or virtual, is asked to contact their local Mind Springs Health office. Office locations and phone numbers can be found at MindSpringsHealth.org/treatment-services/locations. 

During in-person sessions, social distancing and infection protocols will take place, per guidance from the State of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mind Springs Health offices will undergo stringent disinfecting and cleaning procedures and employees will be required to wear masks while in the workplace. Patients will also be asked to wear a mask during their sessions.

Obituary: Shelley Miller Sharp-Lohrman, Oct. 15, 1951 – June 22, 2020

Shelley Miller Sharp-Lohrman passed away on June 22, 2020, in the arms of her loving husband, Ernie Lohrman, and into the arms of her beloved God. Shelley fought a courageous battle against cancer and never lost her strong faith. Until the very end of her life, Shelley sent inspirational messages to friends and clients, and her philosophy was “life is full of change, and you must accept it to grow.”

Shelley Miller was born in Wray, Colorado, and grew up on an 800-acre cattle ranch in Edwards that her parents, Ruth, and Ray Miller, purchased in 1953. The family initially moved into a wooden structure on the property, which was built in 1892 and had no indoor plumbing. In 1958, Ray Miller built the family’s home where the Miller children grew up.

At the time, the elementary school in Edwards was a one-room schoolhouse with one teacher. Shelley and her four classmates attended grades K-4 there, and Shelley always reflected on that time with love and vivid memories. She later attended junior high and high school in the Eagle Valley with her siblings along with others from the area. They traveled on the school bus 28 miles each way to Gypsum. After high school, Shelley studied Fashion Merchandising.

Thirty-five years ago, Shelley joined Mary Kay Cosmetics where she was an award-winning sales director. She loved her work transforming women’s lifestyles. Shelley was also a talented baker who worked at the Westin Vail Cascade for years. When the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort opened in 1988, she was hired as a pastry chef and worked the 1 a.m.-noon shift preparing breakfast pastries often using her own recipes. Shelley’s passion for cooking and baking started at an early age while helping her mother feed their large family. She was well-known for her homemade jams and jellies and would often gather rhubarb from the riverbed and make pies much to the delight of friends and neighbors who teased “she knew where the rhubarb and the horseradish grew wild”. Shelley loved to garden too and knew the name of every plant and flower growing in the valley.

Shelley was married to Ernie Lohrman for 28 years and he is also well-known in the valley. The couple is recognized for their hard work, generosity, and love of life. Forty years after Shelley originally moved to Edwards, she and Ernie purchased a lot on the same acreage where Shelley lived as a child. That land is now Singletree and Shelley loved being part of the community and always took pleasure in seeing so many others enjoy the special place and beautiful views that were a part of her entire life.

In addition to her husband, Ernie, Shelley is survived by siblings Gary Miller of Eagle, Steve Miller (Marguerite) of Glenwood Springs, Marilyn Pope of Wray, Marty Miller of New Castle, and Laura Kinney (Rob) of Silt, Colorado, and many loving nieces and nephews. Shelley’s parents Ruth and Ray Miller and sisters, Carol and Billie Lou preceded her in death.  Ernie and the family wish to thank everyone who walked beside them during this challenging journey.  They plan a private celebration of life later in the summer.

Vail Town Council to discuss e-bikes on Vail Pass

The Vail Town Council will discuss its preferences regarding the use of e-bikes on Vail Pass and bicycle dismount zones in the village pedestrian areas at its afternoon meeting on Tuesday. The meeting begins at 1 p.m. in the Town Council chambers with social distancing protocols in place. The meeting will be live-streamed at www.highfivemedia.org/live-five.

During the busy summer months, there is much activity on Vail Pass and on town bike paths which coincide with many pedestrian areas. Tuesday’s discussion will present an opportunity to review what is currently allowed and to collect feedback from the Town Council regarding Vail’s position in allowing e-bikes on Vail Pass as well as ideas to reduce congestion in the pedestrian areas.

To review the staff memo or for information on how to forward public input on these agenda topics, please access www.vailgov.com/town-council or email publicinput.vailtowncouncil@vailgov.com by noon Tuesday.

The Vail Pass Recreation Trail is operated and maintained by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Like Interstate 70 on Vail Pass, much of the trail is located within an easement with the U.S. Forest Service.

CDOT’s general position is that the trail is a transportation route constructed as part of I-70, providing a continuous non-interstate bicycle route through Colorado, and that it should be managed under state law which allows Class I and Class II electric-assisted bicycles on paved recreation trails. The USFS general position is that e-bikes are motorized vehicles, and therefore not allowed on this trail per the White River National Forest Travel Management Plan.

Because the trail holds a USFS Trail designation, the current understanding is that e-bikes are prohibited. The town has been asked to provide its input into CDOT’s more formal process to occur on July 16. The overall goal is to come to an agreement with the USFS that would allow e-bikes on the Vail Pass Trail. The Vail Town Council has supported the use of e-bikes on town owned recreation trails. Recreation, guest experience and commuting opportunities were a few of the reasons the Town Council cited for supporting e-bikes on paved trails.

Dismount zones in pedestrian areas

The topic of dismount zones has been discussed in recent years; however, there has not been a decision to create or enforce dismount zones for various reasons and somewhat related to the complexity of solving the problem as issues really arise only during the busy times of year. There is currently one dismount zone on private property near Arrabelle in Lionshead.

In addition, bikers are asked to dismount on some stairways in Vail Village. There are many challenges in pedestrian ways with much congestion between pedestrians, bicycles, electric bicycles and other new forms of transportation such as Segways, scooters and hoverboards as well as the speed variation of bicycles, etc. that can create what feels like less-than-safe conditions.

It has been suggested that “dismount zones” in village areas could offer a solution. The discussion will offer an opportunity to review what is currently allowed in pedestrian areas and put forth some questions and ideas that may help generate solutions as to how to mitigate these issues created by many types of transportation uses in these areas.

For more information, email Gregg Barrie, senior landscape architect, at gbarrie@vailgov.com.

Norton: People love a good story

Some of us like to tell a good story, some enjoy hearing a good story, and some of us appreciate both. And although there are a few people who seem to derive pleasure from a bad or negative story, I would say most people prefer a good story, maybe even a great story.

Every story usually has at least one primary theme and could also include a few subplots. Each story will have a central character and typically some supporting characters. Almost all great stories bring us on an adventure as we retell our own story or as we listen intently to the person sharing their own story. And isn’t it true that sometimes stories tend to get better each time we tell it? Well, maybe not better, but sometimes built up a little bit bigger or exaggerated slightly.

Are we more interested in telling our own tales? If the answer is yes, does that mean we may not be taking enough interest when others are sharing their story? A good storyteller is someone who can also listen and learn from the stories of others. 

Good or great stories could be about something near and dear to our hearts as we reminisce about our memories of the people we have met or the places we have been. An inspirational story about achievement or overcoming an obstacle or challenge to accomplish a goal or fulfill a dream always makes for a good story too.

For me, there is nothing like the comeback story. Whether it is a person or team competing and coming from behind to win, or an individual making a comeback after an injury or accident. As I listen to the story of work ethic and effort that they put into their recovery, I cannot help but become motivated by their discipline, determination, grit, and resiliency.

Hearing stories told by our grandparents, aunts and uncles, and longtime friends of the family can be amazing as we listen to tales of the past. Especially as seen from their eyes and what they may have experienced firsthand. All those victories and defeats, near misses, good times, bad times, hardships and opportunities, and all the laughs and tears along the way. Each in their own way make for a good story.

My own grandfather was a fantastic storyteller. He captivated everyone’s attention who happened to be around him, whether he was telling a life story, a lesson learned, recounting a current event, or telling a joke. He had this knack for maintaining a little mystery and creating suspense with each tale told and with every punchline waiting to be delivered.

This is important because there is still much life to be lived. We will have mystery and suspense because we do not know what the future holds. The story we will share with others tomorrow will be different than the story we might have told today. New stories are being written each day. The narrative is being written by all of us as we continue to live our lives. We get to add to our stories based on what we strive to accomplish, through life’s journey, and by the people we meet along the way.

People love a good story. People are looking for a good story. And it makes me think of the Steven Spielberg quote, “The most amazing thing for me is that every single person who sees a movie, not necessarily one of my movies, brings a whole set of unique experiences, but through careful manipulation and good storytelling, you can get everybody to clap at the same time, to hopefully laugh at the same time, and to be afraid at the same time.”

How about you? Do you love a good story? Maybe even a great story? Do you prefer to tell the story or hear the story? I would love to hear all about your storytelling experiences at mnorton@tramazing.com. And maybe through some great storytelling, we can all clap at the same time, making this a better than good week.   

Mountain Youth keeps a pulse on the community with surveys

A proverb says, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Every day feels very much the same as we live in the times of COVID-19, but things may never go back to the “same.” We’ve heard, seen and been part of learning experiences over the past four months — and know families are working to find their way in life with coronavirus.

One of Mountain Youth’s fortes is tracking behaviors and perceptions, taking a pulse on the community and collectively assessing our fear, anxiety, joy, failure, and success. As with any program, the work cannot be done in a vacuum. Recently, Mountain Youth endeavored to conduct a parent survey that would allow us to understand the changing landscape, and identifying needs and gaps during COVID-19. This was a great enhancement to the community parent survey administered by Mountain Youth back in November.

Mountain Youth received feedback from almost 700 parents from around the Eagle River Valley to find out what challenges families faced, how they were either able to meet these challenges, or how they felt overwhelmed by them. Before we dig into our findings, we thank all the parents who took the time to answer the questions honestly. Sometimes it’s hardest to admit to ourselves where we are struggling.

“Collecting this honest and timely information from parent stakeholders is critical in ensuring we deliver the most impactful educational programming,” said Amy Baker, Family Education Manager at Mountain Youth. The November parent survey was sent to PTAs, shared in local newsletters and newspapers as well as on social media. Brush Creek Elementary, Battle Mountain High School and Homestake Peak School were the three top responding schools, and their PTAs, along with 21 other schools, received donations from Mountain Youth. These incentives were generously supported by Communities That Care and local safe driving initiatives.

Once we saw the quickly changing roles during COVID-19, Mountain Youth again reached out to the trusted adult community in April 2020 to see how they, and their families, were faring during quarantine and how they can be supported. During the height of the quarantine, parent survey respondents revealed the following:             

  • 58% found the home school situation “stressful but managing”
  • 81% practiced social distancing all the time
  • 45% reported unemployment as an external stressor regarding their family’s mental health

Even though quarantine has ended, mental health issues, anxiety and stress related to employment, child care, virtual learning and the unknown, certainly has not. Mountain Youth continues to work with families, helping provide resources and answer questions.

From this most recent parent survey, we learned families are spending more time together, getting outside for walks and hikes, eating dinner together, watching movies, playing board games, and conversing more. These healthy moments together create opportunities to discuss what’s important to us, our value systems, and how we support each other through tough times. Celebrate this time with your child and use it to improve your relationship and lines of communication so they know you’re listening and hear them and their needs.

Mountain Youth reintroduced the parent survey in 2017 after a several year hiatus, and administered it again in 2019 during the same administration window as the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey. Times are certainly different, but some of the needs are the same. During quarantine, the biggest challenges were finding time for self-care, establishing a working routine and finding the right words and advice for senior students who are missing out on important rituals. There’s a thirst for learning. Almost half (42%) of respondents wanted more opportunities for virtual learning, shared resources and ideas for establishing a routine.

Even during times of uncertainty and anxiety, we want to celebrate successes. This year, we applaud the parents and caregivers who have taken the time to take either or both surveys. They told us that 80% can recognize when their child has a mental health need, up from 50% in 2017 and more parents are monitoring their child’s social media and phone use. 

We know these positive changes often come from, and lead to, a better dialogue within families. From awkward conversations sprout gems that help families learn and grow together.

And we know there is always room to grow and improve. Here’s an easy one: fewer parents now tell their kids they are proud of them. Stop reading and go tell them now — because kids probably need to hear it just a little more today than in the past.

An area where we need to work — together — is regarding alcohol consumption and the laws around serving young people. The majority of parents are still “not sure” if other parents knew about the laws of providing alcohol to teens; and if parents knew the consequences if it would keep them from hosting teen parties where alcohol is served.

Almost 50% of parents surveyed support a social host ordinance, which is good since it is a felony to serve or give minors alcohol, unless they are your own child under your direct supervision and on your property or with the private property owner’s permission. However, alcohol and other substances interrupt the developing brain and sharing alcohol with your child sets unclear expectations about when and why it should be consumed. We support keeping family time sacred and healthy by keeping it substance free.

A safe family environment encourages honest dialogue and real conversations with resources that can help with even the most challenging topic. According to the 2019 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, overseen by Mountain Youth, 83% of high school youth say they can go to parents or guardians with a problem and 55% reported that parents/guardians have talked with them about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. In the coming weeks, Mountain Youth will share more results from the biennial HCKS. This is a chance for the community to learn what young people see, feel, hear on a daily basis… and how we can all work together to provide support and growth. 

“I’m excited to see the progress we made in the community and to get clarity on ways we can help families find resources and learn together, creating a stable home life,” Baker says.

Please join us on this journey by visitig www.MountainYouth.org to learn about parent education opportunities, as well as more information on youth behaviors, attitudes and perceptions.