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Letters

WILDEST DREAMSNever in my wildest dreams did I think that when I paid my bill for a meal in Steamboat that part of my dinner check would go to support United Airlines, a New York Stock Exchange company and one of the largest airlines in the world. What will the chamber think of next to do with our tax dollars?

Hill Blackett Jr.

Steamboat Springs

TIME, NOT TAXESWhy is it that those who support new taxes to help pay for their child’s day care never mention a parent’s responsibility to raise their kids?

Have things in this country changed so much that all a person needs to do is give birth, then find a day-care center to raise the child for them?

I think this trend should stop. I agree as they say these young years are precious and crucial ones to a child’s development, but how is it so many parents these days would rather pay someone to raise their offspring other than take the time that is needed to care for them and teach them themselves? It’s only a few years. Take this time to instill the values you want them to live by, instead of dropping them off to be kept by some poorly paid day-care center, who has differing values depending on who might be there for the day.

My mother had five children, used public transportation, did whatever it took to be there for her kids. She didn’t have to support a $25,000+ SUV or take vacations on her own. She made the sacrifice to make sure her kids were raised with the values she felt they needed to be good people.

(Something must have worked because I couldn’t leave my dog at a kennel not even an expensive one for a day let alone five days a week).

Being a parent takes more than money for day care. It also takes time and love. Maybe if this tax doesn’t pass some lucky kid might get their mom or dad to stay at home and be with them when they need them most. I don’t think if this happens that parent will live to regret the time they spent with their kid.

Routt County is supposed to be a great place to raise children, not one that is just here to help pay someone to do it for you. In short, don’t be one who wonders how your young child spends their day. Know what they are doing because you are there with them. It’s only the most crucial developmental years of their lives. Do whatever it takes to give them the time they deserve, even if you have to ride the free bus and eat ramen noodles. They’ll love you for it.

Brian Arel

Routt County

BACK TO BASICS”Eighty-five percent of all brain development happens before the kids enter public schools.” If this is news to you and now you’re worried about getting tax dollars for your early childhood education program, maybe the education needs to be focused on you, rather than your children. This is old news; being held, talking and spending time with children is what they need most during these early formative years. Kids need to know they are loved. Is this news, too?

I understand having to be the breadwinner and do it all. I’ve been a single parent for more than 15 years. I’ve worked nights in a mine, been ill for extended periods of time, I’ve donated plasma for grocery money and been forced to live on $40 per week. I’ve learned that seeing your child in a wheelchair is absolutely heart wrenching. There’s not much that my family of three has not experienced. I’m a single parent. It’s tough, there’s no doubt. Child care is just one issue of the multitudes. I’ve had more personal trials than most parents will ever face. Once I went back to the basics, spending time, one on one and just talking to my children about life, death and everything in between, the answers to our problems became manageable, including what we could live without. I have two beautiful, teen-age daughters and they are a joy and a delight to be around for everyone not just me. They are a “benefit” to society, and not a detriment. Why because it was up to “ME.” Unfair circumstances, setbacks and disappointments, incredible grief, financial ruin and illness have been all too familiar but it made me a better parent and I didn’t look at you, your parents and grandparents for a handout. I asked my trusted neighbors and family when we needed something. Not one of them threw money at us to “fix” things. I didn’t look for solutions in institutions. We got our priorities straight by being told “no” and looking for creative solutions.

But whether or not you’re a single parent, or a low-income wage earner, your choice as a parent is just that your choice. When you make that choice no matter what the circumstance it’s time to grow up and take responsibility and raise “the bar” for yourselves. You have choices within the child-care system. Taxpayers have a choice, too say “no.” Money for better salaries does not “guarantee” any results. Institutionalizing children at an earlier age, putting them in a box, teaching them group conformity, creating more distance between parents and children does not sound like a sound choice for our future generation.

While I wholeheartedly agree that people should be paid what they are worth, maybe parents should be asking that question of themselves if you can’t financially make it. If you’re not being paid what you’re worth, are you doing something about it? If you can’t afford what you want for your children, don’t blame it on the “resort.” Many of the reasons it is so expensive to live here is because of other shortsighted taxpayer decisions stemming from long ago. There are other places that are less expensive, have all the programs you need to help you through “your personal dilemma.” Sometimes you have to do what you have to do Lord knows the rest of us have had to make hard decisions.

It’s time for the Routt County voters to get back to basics. Routt County is one of the highest-taxed counties in the state. Why are you going to keep adding to the tax bill and help one sector and not factor in the how it will affect everyone as a hole? This isn’t about education, it’s about common sense.

Focus your efforts on our local public schools instead of compete with them. You do what it takes to address your preschoolers, and let the taxpayers concentrate on the public school system. There’s only one pot of funding and what is there to understand about that fact? Just because it’s $9 per $100,000 doesn’t mean it’s minimal and doesn’t mean it will be used for children’s highest and best good.

Homeschoolers are rising in numbers at a phenomenal rate. Our local school districts are loosing more than $5,000 per student to homeschooling, and the projections are expected to continue to increase at a rapid rate. Colleges are now actively recruiting home schoolers even our own CSU. Do you know why? High test scores and a host of other desirable qualities. I personally am going back to school, and of my own professors, I was astounded at how many have or are homeschooling their own children. What does that tell you? Have the salary increases to our teachers improved public education over the past 10 to 20 years?

Taxpayers and parents educate yourself. Look up the “Time” magazine article Aug. 27, 2001 “Home Sweet School.” There are several books and authors about “Dumbing Down America.” “Dumbing us Down.” Read them yourself.

At least make an effort parents. We don’t succeed by being perfect we succeed by never giving up and being creative. It’s up to us, not the preschools to succeed. Money doesn’t solve anything. A wholehearted effort on being a parent is more heroic. If you’re worried about money, give up Thanksgiving or Christmas and drive to Denver and work in the soup line. Or spend a day as a family in Children’s Hospital. Look around you and count your blessings. Try some tough love on yourself. Life is full of choices. Nobody got you where you are, so grow up! There are many, many funding needs in this county. We should be more concerned about hospice care, handicap facilities, the D.A.R.E. program, safer roads and open space. I’m worried about our kids not knowing where their food comes from, what it means to be ethical and what it means to be a family, and conflict resolution. How are they going to learn, when our “educated” society as a whole doesn’t understand? It takes a village to raise children. My parents have raised their children, are raising their grandchildren, are paying a healthy share of taxes to the South Routt School District, substantially support the 4-H and FFA programs, and now you’re asking them to help raise your children and grandchildren, too, because you’re struggling. Shame on you! Take up your torch and carry it yourself and let us all care for our own and those others whom we choose to support.

Francine Acord

South Routt

A GIFTI have been a member of the education community in this town for 16 years. The people I have been associated with during my tenure are dynamic, caring, intelligent, energetic, selfless individuals. They’re individuals, from those just embarking on their careers to those nearing the end of their teaching years, that are among the highest quality of people I have known. Each day, they arrive at work with one mission to further the academic, social and emotional growth of the children of this community.

It is a sad day when an anonymous “concerned citizen” distorts the truth and attempts to diminish the value, in the eyes of the community, of some truly amazing individuals.

Unfortunately, most folks in town don’t know the breadth of love and dedication that pours forth into school buildings each day as teachers tend to be a humble lot. I’ve been privileged to witness this devotion from the day I arrived 16 years ago. Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric of an anonymous voice. This community’s teachers are a gift.

Don Schwartz

Steamboat Springs

PAY AND TEACHERSThis is the question the voting public of Steamboat Springs will need to answer on Tuesday when considering 3A. Before you cast your vote, let’s consider an additional issue: cost of living and salary base. A recent article compared the present salaries of our district to other districts of similar size and economic status. As the reader could see, Steamboat Springs was well below in salary base when compared to other districts. I was disappointed to find that a school district in our own backyard was not mentioned in the article. Just 45 miles to the west is a community similar in total population and student enrollment, but yet, not as prosperous economically as Steamboat Springs. Let’s take a look at Moffat County School District compared to our school district. The following information was obtained from Moffat County School District, Craig Chamber of Commerce and Moffat County Board of Realtors along with our local Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, Routt County Board of Realtors and Steamboat Springs School District:

Cost of housing and salaries for Craig/Moffat County:

Average purchase price for residential housing in Craig as of Sept. 2001: $109,000

Average cost of rent for 1BR in Craig: $450/month

Starting salary for teachers: $27,287

Salary for master degree with 15 years experience: $46,514

Salary for Ph.D. with 15 years of experience: $53,333

Cost of housing and salaries for Steamboat Springs:

Average purchase price for a condominium as of Sept. 2001: $267,760

Average purchase price for residential housing as of Sept. 2001: $519,376

Starting salary for teachers: $25,926

Salary for master degree with 15 years of experience: $42,780

Salary for Ph.D. with 15 years of experience: $47,255

Needless to say, the numbers speak for themselves. Craig and Moffat County residents appear to value their educational system by providing a substantial salary base to help support their educators and in turn invest in their children’s futures. If a community with the economical status of Craig can provide an appropriate pay scale for their educators, surely our prosperous community can do the same. We, as a society, are asking more and more of our educators and students: increase educational standards and perform! Our governor and legislators have raised the bar by demanding all of our children can achieve and perform at grade level. We monitor progress of that goal through CSAPs and the continued evaluation of the content standards with the Colorado Department of Education. The challenge is demanding, but with guidance and direct instruction of our talented teachers, our students continue to perform well above the state averages. We continually ask for improvement and we get improvement. Now it’s time to give something back and demonstrate our support for the education of our children by providing an appropriate salary base for our educators.

As you enter the cafeteria at Strawberry Park Elementary, a message written in permanent paint reigns high above the doors. It reads: Do the right thing! We ask our students to “do the right thing” by learning and performing to the best of their ability, making good moral judgments and becoming a productive model citizen of our society. We ask our teachers and administrators to “do the right thing” by creating a safe and stimulating learning environment to help mold our children to be responsible and knowledgeable citizens. Now it is time for the voting public of Steamboat Springs to “do the right thing” for the future of our children and community! Do The Right Thing! Vote Yes on 3A

Michele Conroy

Special education teacher,

Moffat County School District


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