Craig educators take to the streets as part of statewide action | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig educators take to the streets as part of statewide action

Intermittent rain and chilly temperatures couldn't dampen the spirits of this group of teachers, students, and residents, who took to Victory Way on Friday, Oct. 5, to rally in support of Amendment 73, which proposes tax increases on wealthier households and some corporations to provide additional funding to Colorado schools.

CRAIG — Intermittent rain and chilly temperatures couldn’t dampen the spirits of a group of educators and supporters — all wearing reds — who rallied on Victory Way Friday, Oct. 5, in support of Amendment 73, which proposes tax increases on wealthier households and some corporations to provide additional revenue for Colorado schools.

"A ‘yes’ vote would have a tremendous impact on the schools and students in Moffat County," said Lauren Pontious-Powell, literacy coordinator at Sandrock Elementary School.

Amendment 73, if approved by voters, is expected to bring $2.6 million in additional funds to Moffat County School District, and Pontious-Powell thinks the additional revenue "will allow our district to provide students with more resources and more opportunities. A more competitive salary for our staff would lead to lower turnover rates, allowing us to have quality applicants and retain quality staff."

The Craig group joined similar efforts in 26 other communities organized by the Colorado Education Association.

"Students in ninth-grade and those who are younger have never experienced fully-funded public education," said CEA President Amie Baca-Oehlert.

At an average of $9,575 spent per pupil, Colorado lags well behind the national per-pupil spending average of $11,762, ranking Colorado 39th among 50 states and the District of Columbia for the fiscal year 2016, according to data released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau. In Moffat County, spending is less than $8,000 per pupil.

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"Our children deserve equity with regard to curriculum materials, programming choices, and opportunities," said Ridgeview Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Lori Stammler.

While many other school districts are seeking to raise local taxes, Moffat County supporters of Amendment 73 see it as a way for the state to pay its fair share.

"We are always fundraising, cutting box-tops, collecting metal scraps, working at McDonald’s fundraising nights just to name a few. This money doesn't make a dent in what our students need. The entire way our state funds education needs to change," said Ridgeview Elementary School third-grade teacher Crystal Lytle.

Colorado communities should expect to see more red and more teachers on the streets in the lead up to the November election.

"Red for Ed started in West Virginia as a way for teachers to show unity. Soon, teachers across Arizona, Oklahoma, and Colorado began to wear red every week to show unity and to raise awareness about public education and funding issues across many states." Pontious-Powell said.

Next, educators will take to social media throughout the October and, on Oct. 13 and 20, will hold community walks to talk to voters about the candidates who support public education and initiatives on the ballots.

Stammler hopes voters will consider the issues deeply and realize that "educators participating in this movement care considerably for their students. We're not simply a group of individuals who enjoy complaining. The future of Colorado is in our classrooms. We are advocating for financial equity on their behalf."

Craig Press Editor Jim Patterson contributed to this story. Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com