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Opinion Letters – week of October 16, 2011

October 18, 2011

Is the State to Blame for Problems in Lewis-Palmer School District 38?

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 currently has 3 incumbent board members up for re-election.  All three are being challenged by candidates who believe D-38 can do much better managing the district’s finances – putting more money into the classroom without raising taxes.  During the recent candidate forum at Monument Academy, John Mann, the incumbent board president, reiterated his belief that the state’s approach to K-12 funding shortchanges Lewis-Palmer.  Before jumping on this bandwagon, let’s look at the facts:

In the recently-completed 2010-11 school year,
There were 34 school districts in Colorado with enrollments greater than 4000 students.  These 34 districts accounted for 87.1% of all full-time students in the state.
State-provided funds accounted for 63.3% of Total Program Funding in these 34 districts.  But in D-38, state-provided funds accounted for 67.7% of Total Program Funding.  Only 15 districts received more state funding than D-38.

Despite these facts, our current school board continues to blame the state for problems created by local leaders.   Instead of casting blame, let’s follow the advice of the three new candidates and involve all district constituents in finding innovative approaches to fix the problems while maintaining a first class education within state budgetary mandates.

David J. Cloud

Monument

Replace D-38 incumbents

I am writing in support of three candidates running for Lewis-Palmer School District 38, Ken Valdez, Gordon Reichal and Al Maurer. The reason I am supporting all three is simple: They respect you the citizen and your tax dollars.

Since 2006, I have watched D-38 go from over 30 percent reserves, dropping to under 5 percent through 2009.

When the recession hit in 2010 this school board had to cut teachers, increase their classroom size, close a middle school that was truly one of the best in the state, freeze salaries, lose high school class offerings especially in the AP area as well as increase student activity fees. Also, under the current board’s direction they have accrued $225,000 in fines from the Colorado Department of Education due to their inability to understand and follow the regulations.

All the while, this incumbent school board refuses to take responsibility but continues to blame the state, elected representatives as well as their community for their funding failures.

District 38 voters need to understand that the incumbents are wanting you to put them back in office to continue their irresponsible management of your tax dollars. Valdez, Reichal and Maurer will stop this type of unsustainable cut-and-restore mentality.

Angela Dougan

Colorado Springs

D-38 Needs New Leadership

At recent D38 Board Candidate forums, the incumbents showed again how out of touch they are using their tired rhetoric about how they kept the budget cuts far from the classroom and teachers have never been happier.  The truth is the classroom was, in deed, dealt the greatest blow in those cuts.

Class size continues to grow and it is students who lose out.  D38 has outstanding students who come to school motivated and interested in learning as instilled by their parents. When class size increases, even the most skilled teacher must spend more time managing student behavior instead of teaching.  A direct correlation exists between larger class size and the increasing power of peer pressure.

Despite a board policy requiring an annual work climate survey, it hasn’t been done for two years.  The superintendent and principals know morale is lower than ever.  How could the BOE not know?  Identifying problems, past and present, is seen by them as being negative.  The consequence of this narrow approach is problems haven’t been faced fully and dealt with adequately.  The incumbents have invested much time and effort to the best of their ability, but D38 desperately needs new leadership.

Steve Boyd

Larkspur

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