As mayor of Mountain Village, I fill a seat on the school district’s Long Range Infrastructure Planning Committee, which has spent many months discussing school expansion needs and solutions. These discussions have been rigorous and I am extremely impressed with the open, inclusive, positive manner in which our school board utilized this committee to gather input from a broad cross-section of the community.
I was pleased to see that critics of expansion plans were welcomed warmly at the table, and listened to thoughtfully and respectfully. I observed that the school board and school district staff listened to community input, weighed pros and cons of various proposals (including doing nothing) and reached a sensible conclusion on the amount of expansion and improvements to pursue. They backed off from the “perfect” solution, and are pursuing a strategy that is financially prudent, and still advances the ball in a manner we will not regret later.
The fact that they can retire debt at the same time and, essentially, make this measure “tax neutral” is, to me, additional evidence that they are being respectful of the taxpayer while still honoring the community’s commitment to our kids.
The details of the expansion/improvement plans are being well advertised by the school board, so I will not comment on them specifically here, other than to say they are absolutely necessary. I will, however, comment on the fact that, if approved, this bond will provide some funds for teacher housing. Teacher retention in Telluride is an ongoing challenge, and the lack of affordable housing is the primary culprit. I applaud the school board’s wisdom to include some funds for teacher housing in this ballot measure.
I acknowledge that we are in the midst of global financial turmoil and that we’ll certainly feel the effects locally for the next several years. And while I hear the arguments that now is not the time to approve new debt, I believe quite strongly that investments in educating our youth require our full support, regardless of economic conditions. Who knows: the next CEO of Globalmegabank may be in the fourth grade right here in Telluride. Let’s make darn sure she is getting the best education possible! Please, vote YES on 3A.