OPINION: A half cent for our kids. our community, our schools — vote ‘yes’ on 2B! | SteamboatToday.com

OPINION: A half cent for our kids. our community, our schools — vote ‘yes’ on 2B!

Steamboat Springs, for 25 years you have shown your commitment to directly invest in public education through a half-cent sales tax. Referendum 2B extends this investment in our local public schools.

Voters first approved this commitment to the students of Steamboat Springs in 1993 and then approved the tax again in three subsequent elections, extending coverage to all Routt County public schools in 2009. This is not a new tax nor a tax increase. A "yes" vote on 2B continues to provide critical local funding for our schools for another 10 years through 2029.

This funding was important in 1993. It became crucial during the recession in 2009 when the state slashed school funding to balance the budget. To this day, the state of Colorado continues to use education dollars to balance the state budget. Steamboat Springs School District has been shorted more than $19.5 million since 2009. Routt County students were buffered from the funding shortfall because of the foresight of community members in the early '90s.

Since 1993, the half-cent tax has provided more than $61 million to public education. Investing our local dollars locally has made an enormous difference in elevating our district to Accredited with Distinction status and being named one of the top school districts in the state.

The Steamboat Springs Education Fund is the volunteer-run organization contracted with the city of Steamboat to grant the funds and to ensure that your tax dollars are being spent with great care.

The mission statement of the fund is clear: To enhance academic accomplishment in Routt County through student-facing investments in staff, facilities, infrastructure, technology and curriculum, made available through our public schools. The granting cycle includes a robust, transparent accountability process to ensure that all dollars spent are spent productively and effectively.

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While the needs of the districts have changed over the years, the bulk of proceeds from the half-cent sales tax consistently have been spent directly on teachers, technology and programming. For the 2018-19 school year, one in every 10 teachers in Steamboat Springs School District, as well as teaching and support staff in Steamboat and other Routt County public schools, were funded by the half-cent tax.

In addition, funds support a wide variety of school-based programs, course offerings and experiences. Examples include support for mental health services, Yampatika's Environmental Literacy program, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps' Science School, Junior Achievement's Destination Success program, the high school Makerspace Lab, the English Language Learner program, the Gifted and Talented program and more. Your tax dollars also fund most of the technology budget for the Steamboat Springs School District.

For detailed information on how funds have been spent through the years, visit the Steamboat Springs Education Fund website at steamboateducationfund.org.

Investing in education is a long-term strategy for our community. We have a responsibility to continue to ensure the next generation of students has a high-quality learning environment.

Research shows that the quality of schools is one of the main reasons families choose communities. Continued investment in our schools supports the economic vitality of the community, enhances community desirability and increases property values.

Please join us in upholding our community's tradition of excellence and vote "yes" on 2B.

Sincerely,

Jill Brabec, Chresta Brinkman, Kristi Brown, Chris Johnson, Sam Jones, Jeanne Mackowski, Cristina Magill, Jenny Maxwell, Jay O'Hare, Julie Tourigny, Norbert Turek and Jon Wade

Members of the Half Cent Makes Sense Committee

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