Editor:

Together, we can provide much needed help to our local schools by voting yes on 5B.

As the former chief financial officer of Roaring Fork Schools, I watched with frustration as the gap between education funding in Colorado and other states grew. In 1998, Colorado school funding lagged about $500 per pupil behind the national average. By 2018, that gap had grown to $3,000. This translates to significantly lower average teacher salaries in Colorado than in other states. And for RFSD, the funding gap is further magnified by having the third-highest cost of living out of 178 Colorado school districts. This combination of low funding and high cost of living means RFSD cannot compete at the national level or state level to attract and retain qualified teachers.

And it’s not just teachers who are impacted. From bus drivers to food service workers, substitute teachers to facility maintenance workers, nearly every support department in the district currently suffers from staffing shortages driven largely by wages that are no longer competitive.

Colorado laws provide one mechanism for local voters to increase funding over the amount generated by the state formula, and that is through a mill levy override. Our surrounding districts currently receive more per pupil funding through voter-approved overrides than RFSD.

I hope you will join me in voting yes on 5B to provide this desperately needed funding for our local schools so they can attract and retain teachers and other staff members. Find more info at yeson5b.com.

Shannon Pelland

Glenwood Springs