Printed letters, October 14, 2011

In less than a month, voters here will be electing a candidate for School District B, choosing between Ann Tisue and Cindy Enos-Martinez, the incumbent. I heard both candidates speak at a recent Chamber of Commerce event and was impressed with what Ann Tisue had to say because it was refreshingly different from the usual school-board way of thinking.

She believes strongly in the American dream and that the way to achieve it is to improve the quality of education that our children receive.

The present school board has been OK and I feel they do care about the children. But, I think it is time for a change and fresh new ideas and to get away from the status quo and the old ways of thinking.

Ann Tisue would like to see core subjects more strongly emphasized and excellent teachers rewarded and retained. She wants to promote both student and school accountability, and to represent both parents and taxpayers well.

It should be noted that she has received the official endorsement of the Chamber of Commerce.

Voting Ann Tisue onto the School District 51 board will be a good start to improving the education our children and grandchildren receive.

SUE BENJAMIN

Grand Junction

Costs of 3B will be offset by drop in appraised value

On Oct. 10 The Daily Sentinel reported family incomes have declined 9.8 percent since December 2007, according to monthly U.S. Census Bureau data. In contrast, in the last two years alone, School District 51 has seen a 20 percent decrease in funding.

To put these losses in perspective, look at a typical Mesa County wage-earner’s salary. Say someone earned $40,000 a year in 2007, or $3,350 per month, and has experienced a 10 percent wage decrease. This person has had four years to absorb an annual $4,000 decrease in income, unless they have taken on a second job. But, with double-digit unemployment in our county, who can find a second job?

By contrast the school district has lost $8,000 of income in that same $40,000 example, in just two years. Imagine yourself going from a $3,350 monthly income to a $2,700 in just two years and making ends meet. The only second job the school district can hope to get is for us taxpayers to contribute a little more to help them out.

People say that is going to mean less for them. A very important part of the family or business expense equation that gets far too few mentions is that property values, and thus property taxes, continue to decline. By the next tax assessment announcement in May 2013, tax values and taxes we pay will have decreased by more than the increase we are being asked to pay if voters Referred Measure 3B.

Let’s give our children, our families and our economy a fighting chance to meet or exceed the school district’s funding expectation. Vote “Yes” on 3B. Vote “Yes” for the kids. Vote “Yes” for the good of the community, the economy, jobs.

DOUG VAN ETTEN

Fruita

School District 51 is using fuzzy math

I just don’t recall in 2007 and 2008, when School District 51 had all these additional dollars, that it was graduating all rocket scientists and high-test-scoring students.

Now they tell us that they need $12 million more a year, in part to add four more days to the school calendar. It seems to me that each early-release Wednesday takes about two hours out of the day. Two hours times four weeks equals one day a month. That times nine months amounts to nine days that could be added into the calendar at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

They tell us they have cut $28 million. Now they say, with $12 million of that being returned to District 51 through the passing of the mill levy override, they can save our community and our children.

So, were we just wasting $16 million? Just how much more fuzzy math is there in the additional $12 million they say they can’t live without?

I say vote “No” on 3B.

TIM PARTSCH

Grand Junction

Our school children need money from Measure 3B

Over 64,000 people have the opportunity to decide the future of over 22,000 students who don’t have a say in how their educational future will mature.

There has been a lot of debate about how School District 51 spends the money it garners from taxpayers and how some outspoken payees don’t want to pay more for the future of the children of this community.

District 51 has repeatedly proved to be a good steward of taxpayer money, cutting over $28 million from its budget over the last three years.

Graduation rates are increasing, drop-out rates are decreasing and the point of diminishing returns is here. It may take a few years to see the transformation of our schools with the changes that have been implemented to curriculum, but it won’t take long for larger class sizes to lead to higher drop-out rates and lower graduation rates.

With the potential of another $8 million to $10 million in cuts for next school year on the horizon, no signs of the economy turning around any time soon, implying more cuts in years to come, it behooves Mesa County to vote “Yes” on Referred Measure 3B as a way of securing an improving educational system for our children.

This is Mesa County residents’ opportunity to voice their true support of local control over their schools. Measure 3B money is only for Mesa County and is needed by our students so they can continue to be the shining stars of our future.

JIM SMYTH

Grand Junction

Don’t let anger at economy hurt District 51 students

After attending the recent meeting of The Western Slope Conservative Alliance, I was compelled to write this letter. The lack of answers provided by those who oppose the mill levy and the lack of focus on the children was astonishing. What seemed to be applauded was anger toward the economic climate, and for the school district to act as any other business that continues to make cuts. However, our business is unique: We are in the business of building the future.

The argument that the district’s desire is to fund the status quo couldn’t be further from the truth. Superintendent Steve Schultz and Duke Wortmann gave specific examples of how the district has been anything but static. We are now at the point where we are fighting for our children’s future.

The district continues to restructure under the direction of Schultz. The guiding questions in making cuts are: Will it break any laws/mandates? Will it hurt students? Can it be reversed (with the community in mind)? That doesn’t sound like wanting to keep the status quo.

At the meeting, I did not hear any constructive solutions. Even though Phyllis Hunsinger expressed the importance of a quality teacher in the classroom, she contradicted herself in the idea of cutting staff, schools and extra programs. Research proves these programs allow children to excel and enhance academics. Keeping the mill levy in Mesa County will put contact days back on the calendar, return highly qualified teachers (which Hunsinger stressed) and improve technology so that our children have the opportunity to succeed in a global market.

I couldn’t help but notice the atmosphere at the meeting was that of anger toward the government, not the district. Let us not forget the big picture in our haste. It is our responsibility as a community to recognize the ones at stake — the children.

KELLY MCKAY

Grand Junction

Groups helped to stage great monument concert

Many thanks to the Colorado National Monument Association, Shaw Construction and the Centennial Band for a wonderful monument concert.

We are so fortunate to have such a talented group of musicians so giving of their time and talents to perform for the public. The young vocalist was a delightful addition to the program and the director is such a joy to watch. The setting was an added bonus — who could ask for a more beautiful spot than Colorado National Monument.

Again, thanks for such an enjoyable evening. See you next year.

LEE SPARN

Grand Junction


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