Printed letters, Sept. 11, 2011

Voters skeptical of giving School District 51 additional funding from a TABOR override until the district conducts (in Rick Wagner’s words) “a fundamental re-examination of the system of delivery for education,” ought to look again at what is happening in our local district, where the concept of “choice” is now a fact of life for many local students.

District 51 has begun to embrace “choice” to the point that, I would argue, reform of the local education delivery system is well under way. Voters should learn more about the changes that have already taken place before deciding to starve the public education system of resources needed to adequately educate our kids.

Dual Immersion Academy, the Independence Academy Charter School, the Career Center, the R-5 program, Grand River Virtual Academy, Mesa Valley Vision, Distance Learning programs, the Young Parent program, the School Without Walls, the Opportunity Center, and the Glade Park Charter School all present Mesa County students with competing educational programs and choices, the majority of which have been birthed in the last decade. This district has shown itself to be one of the most innovative in the state.

There is certainly room for more choice, but requiring the district to cope with draconian cuts just forces innovation to the back burner. Wagner implies that additional funding will be wasted, as has been the case in Washington, Detroit and Arizona. In reality, the state of Colorado has systematically underfunded Mesa County schools for 30 years, so there’s not a lot of fat to cut.

Wagner would surely agree that an educated electorate is critical for democracy to function. Let’s hope that the innovation in District 51 continues and that stabilizing the budget squeeze will allow the district to offer even more competition and choice in the years ahead.

DOUG MAY

Grand Junction

Let parents provide additional school funds

A six-year override of TABOR Amendment limits to fund $12.5 million a year for District 51, increasing taxes for property owners in this district: Is it a fair solution or another government bailout — but this time on a local level?

After being told it would help retain teaching positions, among other state services, voters elected to keep paying high vehicle registration fees last year. Where has that money gone? When will enough be enough?

Maybe it’s time for the taxpayers with children in school to help the funding. It would be a tax based on the number of children per family, paid by the parents, instead of increased taxes to an overburdened number of property owners who pay their taxes, have paid school taxes while their children were in school and have agreed to keep paying vehicle registration fees.

This isn’t to suggest a reversal of taxes for the property owners. It’s to request there be no additional school taxes for those who don’t have children in the system.

As property owners need to accept their choice to own real estate by paying mortgages and property taxes, parents need to accept their responsibilities of choice by providing an education for their children.

We all have hard decisions to make in these tough economic times. Many property owners are making sacrifices to make ends meet. They may be postponing a family or living on a fixed income due to their age and health. Jobs are hard to find and each dollar earns less each day.

Vote “No” on Referred Measure 3B this Nov. 1. Send the message that voters want a fair and responsible solution for the taxpayers and schools of District 51, not a local government bailout!

FRED AND KIM MUSSMACHER

Grand Junction

Many job applications taken at chamber job fair

On behalf of the Grand Junction Area Chamber, I want to thank The Daily Sentinel for its support of the chamber’s job fair this year. However, as I reviewed Charles Ashby’s article on the event Thursday, I was struck that there was some very positive news that was not reported.

I think the public does need to know that there were applications being taken for well over 100 jobs at the event.

The Mesa County Workforce Center alone was taking applications for the 120 positions that American Furniture Warehouse will be hiring for in the very near future. In addition, Enstrom Candies was gearing up for its holiday season and typically hires 30 or more people. That is good news and should be shared.

I spoke with several employers after the event who will be seriously considering applications and resumes they received that day, with the intent of hiring for positions they have available right now.

I noted with interest that one of the job seekers featured in the news article was looking for work driving truck.  The picture that accompanied the article showed Kevin Braa, Grand Mesa Medical Supply, one of our exhibitors.  He was actively recruiting for a truck-driving position.

Yes, it is a difficult time to look for work in the Grand Valley, but there are jobs available and the chamber was proud to host an event that brought job seekers and employers together.

DIANE SCHWENKE

President/CEO

Grand Junction Area

Chamber of Commerce



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