A community and its school are in partnership

To the editor:

People will agree that teaching our children in the public schools is of the highest calling, and no easy task. I recall being astounded as a first year science teacher that John Elway earned more in one hour of pro ball than I was to earn my entire year. The message was obvious: society places a relatively low value on public education, even though we talk a good line.

Once again our Mancos School is requesting some extra financial support because the mill levy failed last time and times are tougher yet, to the tune of $384,140 in lost state revenue since school year 2009/10. This is not a small cut, nor a frivolous requiest. How are we to expect one of the best performing districts in the county to continue in excellence when theyíve slashed their budget to the bone?

Letís shift to the human side of the equation. Much is asked of our teachers. The demands only grow as the implied compact between parents and teachers is ever more stretched due to changing household economics (and other social factors). I see the result as a volunteer in our elementary school. Of course many parents are fully engaged, yet Iíve worked with kids who might not have had breakfast, or who havenít had a bath in a while, or who are stressed by conflict at home, or who have been moved from school to school, or are being integrated from another culture. Teachers are on the front lines dealing with societyís challenges while also carrying on the essential tasks of teaching the basics, offering enrichments, fostering citizenship and patriotism while also juggling the burdensome standards testing required by state and fed. I observe first hand their supreme dedication, the care they give our children and yes, their frustrations. Our teachers face daily pressures and work long hours for which they are marginally compensated. We should question the merits of a pay raise?

Our children are served best when moral in a school is bolstered. When salaries are frozen year after year, when programs and positions are on the block and materials in short supply, even the most dedicated feel disillusioned. Think of our schools as incubators for a strong and continuing democracy. Teachers (and staff) are the life blood of a school, and they deserve this financial vote of confidence.

Weíre all feeling pinched these days. Yet I truly doubt affordability is the core concern, especially if you look at the numbers. A property valued at $300K will be assessed an additional $10.71/monthly, about the price of lunch at Subway. Perhaps itís the principle of yet another tax on top of all the others that rankles. While this is understandable, the urgency of this particular request demands that we think outside the box. This is not a new tax to build a road or a bridge; this is to sustain the good work of our public school.

A community and its school donít exist apart. They are intrinsically bound in partnership. An adequately funded and successful school returns much to a community, and fosters a better place to live, to work or own a business, and to raise a family. Vote YES on measure 3A.

Tony Littlejohn

Mancos