Because Strong Schools Matter.
Public education in Colorado has always been underfunded when compared to the rest of the country, and this is not changing anytime soon. To compensate for insufficient funding from the state level, school districts rely on their local communities to provide necessary funding through voter-approved property tax-generated investments in local schools.
Growth, especially in our youngest learners, has magnified the lack of adequate childcare and early learning opportunities throughout Eagle County, particularly in the western end of the valley.
The nationwide shortage of qualified teachers has impacted every school district, including our own. Retaining and attracting quality teachers and staff is especially challenging for ECSD because of the cost of living and lack of affordable housing.
School safety and security are a key priority, as is providing much needed student mental health services and counseling supports to ensure the success of every child.
It’s because of these challenges that ECSD has turned to voters in this election to provide the necessary funding needed to work toward solving these complex problems.
Question 5A: Mill Levy Override
The Eagle County School District is asking voters to approve a $3.5 million mill levy override to serve four purposes:
Support the district’s commitment to retain and recruit the best and brightest teachers and staff.
Enhance the safety and security for schools and classrooms.
Provide critical support services including mental health counseling and intervention specialists.
Maintain programs including art, music, technology, and physical education supporting vibrant learning experiences, core skills and language development; improving academic performance opportunities for students.
$3 million of this funding will go to increasing teacher and staff salaries to keep ECSD salaries competitive with other school districts across the state and country. The cost of living in our valley makes it very difficult for teachers to stay here when other districts in the Front Range are offering higher salaries. ECSD wants to stay in the top 10 of the 178 school districts for teacher pay in Colorado to keep the quality teachers we already have and attract more of the very best teachers to our schools.
The other areas funded through the mill levy override will provide immense value to students and staff and help address ongoing challenges following the pandemic.
* MLO sharing per state statute
Question 5B: $100 Million Bond
This ballot question asks voters to approve a $100 million bond – a method of debt financing – to invest in capital projects. ECSD will build more employee housing, make safety and security improvements at local schools, build a new early learning center in Gypsum and expand existing programs, and complete other maintenance and improvements at local schools including updating playgrounds, gyms, locker rooms and athletic facilities.
Why We Need These Projects
Affordable housing is directly linked to the ability to recruit and retain quality teachers and staff. Finding affordable housing is a question new employees think about before deciding to accept a position and move to the school district. ECSD is finishing construction of Miller Flats, located adjacent to Battle Mountain High School and had 150 employees apply for the development’s 37 units. Building new affordable housing helps the district be more competitive in what they have to offer employees and makes ECSD more attractive to the quality educators we want and need to bring to our community.
ECSD also needs to increase its capacity for quality childcare and preschool programs. The Gypsum area has seen growth in more young families and these families need safe and quality childcare and preschool facilities for their children to attend. If families know their young children have a great place to go for childcare and preschool, then they are able to go to work and contribute to our local economy.
Sadly, every year we hear of more violence and safety issues in schools, and every school district considers safety a top priority. With additional funds, ECSD can do more to improve the safety of local schools. The school district must also maintain its current facilities and have funds for improvements to keep our school buildings running efficiently and safely. 5B provides funds to replace, update, or repair roofs, HVAC, playgrounds, gyms, locker rooms, and athletic facilities which will improve learning environments and extend the useful life of existing facilities.