Our View: A matter of due diligence

If 3A passes, it would:

• Build a new Craig Middle School, keeping the current gym, auditorium and shop, but constructing new educational spaces.

• At other district schools, it would enhance school entrances, upgrade lighting, add preschool facilities in elementary schools, and improve heating and ventilations systems, among other improvements.

• Want to do more research? See 2007 Election at craigdailypress.com for stories, letters to the editor and voter information.

Before voting on 3A - a bond proposal to rebuild the middle school and update other Moffat County School District schools - in the Nov. 6 election, consider the following:

• Colorado ranks 48th nationally in funding for education.

• In Colorado, the Moffat County School District is at the bottom of per pupil funding.

• Law requires a portion of per pupil funding go toward maintenance of the buildings. This only covers a small portion of what is needed to keep the district buildings, equipment and technology up to date. In the past, the School Board has deferred money from operations - or money that could go directly toward educational opportunities for students - to help keep up with maintenance.

• The Moffat County School District is one of the few in the state that is currently free of bond debt.

The editorial board believes School Board members have worked hard on maintaining a tight budget while trying to give the best educational opportunities to the area's students.

The editorial board applauds the district's effort to not ask taxpayers for money. In short, we believe the school board has been fiscally responsible.

For example: The School District and area politicians worked hard to secure increased funds for Moffat County students to help offset the disparity in per pupil funding but, even with that, it only decreases the difference between the more affluent districts and less affluent districts. It doesn't level the playing field.

When looking at building a new Craig Middle School, School Board members considered several options, including one to renovate the 60-year-old school at a cost of $14 million, one to build a brand new school at $20 million or, doing a hybrid of both, keeping portions of the old school (gym, auditorium, shop) but also building new educational spaces.

The latter being part of the 3A bond proposal.

The editorial board believes the school district has done its due diligence in combing through the budget in the past and being responsible toward Moffat County residents. We believe it's being fiscally responsible in looking toward the future.

Now, its time for Moffat County residents to do their due diligence and support 3A.

There are many reasons to vote "yes" on 3A, from ensuring safer campuses, building for expected growth, to better technology and a better learning environment that comes from having more funds allocated to educational opportunities, equipment that works and having a good ration of students per classroom.

The editorial board believes a "no" vote will be force the School Board to put more money into capital project, meaning less staffing, larger class sizes, fewer programs and an environment becoming increasingly less conducive to learning.

In short, a "yes" vote is money well spent.

But if nothing else, think of this. Ten years ago, the School District received 10 mills more per year than it currently does because of TABOR. In that time, prices for keeping the basics going, from gas to electric, have gone up considerably.

If 3A passes, taxpayers would still be paying 6 mills less than 10 years ago.

If 3A passes, that equates to $5 a month for a homeowner with a property assessed at $150,000.

If 3A passes, the School District will still have to be financially responsible and deal with rising costs, but it will stop having to spend money on yearly band-aid fixes and focus that money on where it should be - providing educational opportunities.

In the end, the question isn't about "yes" or "no" on 3A. The question is do you pay the cost to provide and maintain a quality education system, or do the students pay the cost to keep old buildings up and running.

The school district has done its due diligence.

Will you?

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