If you’re not sure how to vote on 5B, the Roaring Fork School District’s proposal to raise teacher and staff salaries to a living wage, consider this: I am one of the many teachers who has left the classroom for a higher paying, less stressful job this year. I consider myself well qualified and experienced, but more than that, I deeply cared for my students. It pained me to even consider leaving the teaching profession, but here I am. I found work which better suited what was necessary: a healthier paycheck with fewer hours, and far less stress.

The Roaring Fork Valley needs reliable teachers. Our students deserve high-quality education, from the time they enter to the time they exit. The legacy of our community partly depends on this as well; strong education leads to thriving structure and stability. Low pay leads to high turnover, which threatens that structure and stability.

If we demand so much from our educators, we must reciprocate with a living wage and sustainable working conditions. Our beautiful little valley sits in an awkward bubble when it comes to educational spending. Roaring Fork Schools ranks rather poorly when it comes to per-pupil funding from the state. Paired with an enormous cost of living, lackluster teacher pay doesn’t make sense.

The only way to achieve a better balance is to move forward with this mill levy override. Give teachers a chance to flourish.

Charlie Burns