Granby pledges $20,000 for community schools |

Granby pledges $20,000 for community schools

Tonya Bina

GRANBY – Trustees for the town of Granby unanimously pledged $20,000 in town funds toward the community campaign to support schools.

“We could say it’s not our problem, it’s not our school,” Mayor Jynnifer Pierro said in her discussion during the Feb. 22 town board meeting. “I don’t really think that’s necessarily true because if the schools close, our schools will change. Our kids will be directed to different schools.”

The decision to lend support was made with few constituents in attendance, without anyone speaking in opposition.

“I was hoping more people would be here,” said Pierro. “But that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Pierro advocated support for the pledge partly because Granby received so much support from other towns and organizations after the bulldozer rampage in 2004 – including from the East Grand School District – and the town has supported other agencies during their time of need, such as the town of Holly, when tornadoes leveled the town, and the Grand County Library District during its building campaign.

“Is this the time to help, or to say no?” Pierro asked fellow board members.

Trustee Ed Raffety responded by moving to pledge the amount of $20,000.

“I think it’s important for our community to be responsible for our children,” he said. “If the funding is not right for the schools, that’s our fault. Our fault as adults.”

“I agree with Ed, we need to help the schools,” said Trustee Elaine Henrekin. “But my question is: What’s going to happen next year? Are we going to be in the same boat if this sales tax doesn’t pass?”

Trustee Deb Shaw agreed.

“So how many years are we going to throw money at this problem?” she asked.

Yet in spite her concerns, Shaw eventually spoke in favor of the pledge. “It may not be what everybody wants,” she said, “but you have to do what’s right for the students. And I don’t think closing schools is right for the students.”

For Trustee Ken Coatney, his vote was cast as a path toward improving education countywide, hinging on the possibility of a sales tax question in November.

“It’s a huge paradigm shift in the community to get behind this. I don’t like the tax. I don’t know anybody who does like the idea of a tax,” he said. “But at what point do you say enough is enough?… If my kid was bussed to Fraser or Grand Lake, would I care?

“It’s a nuisance, an inconvenience, but it’s fine. I’m more worried about the quality of education. That’s the trend that scares me, if it keeps going down, it’s only a matter of time before the quality of the programming is affected,” he added. “I don’t care what building or where the building is physically located, I care about the quality of the programming, and that’s why I could see supporting this. It’s time to seize control of our schools.”

“We want to have the best school system. We want people to come here because of our school system,” said Ron Nelson, president of the East Grand Education Foundation and a former banker and teacher, speaking at the meeting. With more state cuts in K-12 education on the horizon, Nelson advocated increased local support of the school district in the future, saying the state “can’t touch our mill levy tax, can’t touch our sales tax.”

“Of all the communities on the list, we are in the toughest spot,” said Trustee Greg Mordini. “Schools have got to be our priority. It’s an issue like this that can either bring our communities together, or it’s going to tear us apart.”

Mordini later suggested the town pay off its lease purchase for the firehouse and redirect the $15,000 per-year interest the town would save to the schools, in addition to the $20,000.

“Paying principle and interest to a bank doesn’t stay in the county,” pointed out Granby Town Manager Wally Baird.

Trustees nearly voted to pledge “at least” $20,000 in support, pending the outcome of the lease purchase.

“There will be people that do not agree with us on this. A lot of people,” Pierro said. “I challenge them to run for office. I challenge them to run for the school board.”

Pierro called the town board’s direction the “high road.”

“The bottom line is, they love their school as much as we love ours,” Pierro said of the communities facing elementary-school closures, recounting one particular conversation she has with a Fraser parent.

“It wasn’t about sending kids to Granby, it was about losing their school.”

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.

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