In Estes Park, 100% of the local school property taxes go to the local school. At least, they did until the democrat-run state decided Estes Park had too much and took $1.3 million (per year). Unlike neighboring districts, Park School District R-3 gets very little outside funding, with less than 15% of the total budget from the federal government. It also has what seems to be a large sum to work with: $10 million.
What should be provided to our children at the cost of $9,500 to $10,100 per student (depending on what you throw into those numbers)?
Jamie Vollmer is a businessman who originally thought the public school could be run like a business, as did EP school board member and local businessman Cody Walker. Vollmer quickly reversed that thought because in the public education system all children must be educated, not hand picked. This means there are special programs that cover all aspects of the spectrum. Unlike a business, which can decide what is important, the federal and state governments mandate what the local schools have in the curriculum.
In the beginning (1900-1910) schools were required to just provide immunization and health activities. Over the next 100+ years, public schools have been burdened with more and more responsibilities. Those added burdens include:
Safety education (1950s)
Sex education (1950s)
Peace, leisure and recreational education (1960s)
Parenting education (1970s)
Teen pregnancy awareness (1980s)
Antismoking education (1980s)
Bicycle safety (1990s)
Bully prevention (2000s)
Elevator safety instruction (2000s)
See anything on this list that should be taught in the home? Are we asking our public school to teach our children or raise them? Is Estes Park making the most of the money they have available?
Look at neighboring Utah, which only spends $6,173 on average for their students (one of the lowest 3 in the country), and yet, they have one of the best success rates. The Utah State Superintendent, Martell Menlove, said on Nov. 19, 2013, the success comes from public schools that are among “the most effective and efficient in the world.”
Speculation can be made about why there is such a discrepancy in spending per student between neighboring states. Is it because of religion? Utah is considered religious (79%) vs Colorado, which is below the national average (37%). Perhaps the family unit has something to do with success? Utah has just 20% single family homes, whereas Colorado has 30%. Is it political leanings? Utah is considered one of the most Republican leaning states, and Colorado has swung into Democrat territory. It can’t be the poverty rate. Colorado is at 13.4% (17.7% of children), while Utah is within one percent of that, albeit, lower. Income inequality could have something to do with it: Utah has the most complete equality (i.e. people across the board have almost the same income), whereas Colorado is 29th on the list.
If you want to know more about how the school budget is spent, stay tuned for part 2 of 3 on the Cost of Education in Estes Park. For questions and comments, contact the board: BOE President Dr. Marie Richardson, Vice President Cody Walker, Treasurer Laura Case or Secretary Patricia Wedan. Next regular meeting, Dec. 16, 2013, 7:00 p.m. at the Estes Park Town Hall/Municipal Building.