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School issue makes good economic sense, too

To the Editor:

I’m writing this letter as a parent of one child in the East Grand School District system. Soon, I will have another attending school in Granby. I’m also writing this as a local resident who wants to see Grand County progress economically.

I’m urging support of the school district’s ballot question 3A on this year’s mail-in ballot. Yes, I support it for the most obvious and pressing reasons. But there’s another reason for supporting the ballot question that goes far beyond the immediate problem.

The immediate problem can be summed up in this phrase: Our schools are too crowded and they’re only going to become more crowded unless something is done.

A total of 72 new students showed up in the East Grand School District this year. The usual two kindergarten classes had to be expanded to three. The fifth-graders at Granby Elementary School are being sent to school at East Grand Middle School to make room for the burgeoning numbers at the elementary school. Next year, if this growth trend continues, there won’t be room in Granby even with the fifth graders at the middle school. And in two years, even if there’s no growth next year, there won’t be enough room at the middle school as the large classes in Granby and Fraser head to the middle school. In other words, this student population boomlet is moving up through the system and will soon be putting pressure on the middle school and high school, too.

At Fraser Valley Elementary School the problem with overcrowding became so extreme that involved parents demanded class size standards last year. The school district responded by adopting guidelines. But to meet the guidelines more classrooms are needed. The town of Winter Park has generously donated the use of a modular for two years at Fraser Valley Elementary school. The school buildings as they are can’t handle the numbers of students there. This isn’t going to get better.

There’s not enough room at Fraser Valley Elementary School. Parents there know this. Unless they like voting against their own self-interest, and the interests of their children, they should be voting “yes” on ballot question 3A. Confusing side issues about a high school and middle school in Fraser ” which will be great in the distant future ” miss the point. There’s a problem in Fraser now.

Some people have balked over the idea of any additions and improvements at the high school. The proposal for an additional new gym is frequently cited by the nay sayers. But the truth is that a new gym is desperately needed. New sports and new levels of teams are being added every year. The current facilities simply can’t handle all the new demand. It’s so bad now that practices start as early as 6 a.m. and end as late as 9 p.m. And, to add insult to injury, the gym is increasingly less available for public use as school demand increases. Gym classes at the school and locker rooms are cramped for time and space. The high school’s current layout is awkward for safety concerns and to accommodate a closed campus. And, don’t forget, there’s no room for growth when that population boomlet works its way up through the schools.

Now’s the time to make the needed changes for the future.

What’s that other reason for supporting the ballot question, as if these weren’t enough? Economic growth.

When families think about moving to an area to start a business or take a job, the first thing they look at is the local schools. One glance at the classified ads in this paper makes it clear that Grand County has many jobs that go begging. Grand County needs a stable workforce. It also needs a stable year-round population. But if good schools can’t be offered to these potential residents and these potential workers, they won’t come here. It’s that simple. Our economic growth hinges on having good schools. People won’t be anxious to send their kids to schools where modulars are lined up in the parking lots like in New Orleans. They won’t want to bring their families to a place where crowded lunchrooms and shared classrooms are the norm. They won’t want to bring the families to a school system where high school sports are compromised because there’s no room for all the athletic activities demanded now.

They won’t want to send their children to schools that aren’t as safe as they could be.

In other words, they won’t come here. And East Grand County will continue to struggle while its neighboring counties grow happily.

It’s clear. Vote “yes” on ballot question 3A. It’s in your own self-interest even if you don’t have children in the schools.

Patrick Brower

Granby

Editor’s note: In addition to being a parent and resident, Patrick Brower is a consultant for the group seeking passage of ballot question 3A.


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