October 31, 2017 | Blog Post

YES on 3E: Enhance the Quality of Education in Colorado Springs D11 Schools

By Rhonda Heschel, D11 parent and pediatric nurse practioner

colorado-springs-vote-yes-3eThis blog was submitted by Rhonda Heschel, a D11 mom and a pediatric nurse practitioner. This post talks about the importance of passing ballot measure 3E to enhance the quality of education in the district and improve student’s access to mental health services.

As a parent, my son’s health and well-being is my primary concern.

When he started kindergarten I thought it should be an easy transition, since he had already been in preschool. Turns out, it wasn’t so easy.

When a child starts kindergarten, parents entrust a significant portion of their children’s developmental time to the schools. When my son’s kindergarten teacher read her new class a story on the first day of school and then gently dismissed the anxious parents (Would we have stayed all day? Yep!), I had to take a slow look around. The colored lines on the floor, the bright posters on the walls, the groups of tables with brand-new supplies ready to go… Was it right? Was it enough?

I quickly realized that Luke’s school was a fantastic place with kind, dedicated, energetic teachers and staff, and as I got to know the school better I naturally started comparing my son’s experience with my own elementary school experience. The differences were vast! My son’s school focused on reading and experiential learning, which is both in-depth and project-based. I can confidently say that my son finished 5th grade with a richness of knowledge that is wonderful for me to see as his mom. Other really valuable assets at my son’s school include a dedicated art teacher, a music teacher, and the school counselor. My son loves art and music, so I’m grateful for those teachers, but I’m also especially grateful that the school has a dedicated counselor.

In addition to being a Mom, I am a pediatric nurse practitioner.

In my work life, I see children for well and sick visits, and I am seeing an increasing number of school-aged children for anxiety and depression.

These children might come to see me every few months, but most spend each day in school.

Our world is an increasingly complicated, and one might argue scary place, with pressures and issues pervasive in a child’s world that I certainly didn’t experience so intensely as a child.

Today we have a significant need for mental health professionals in our public schools that I don’t think will be going away.

Unfortunately, our public schools have very limited resources.

The last time District 11 passed a Mill Levy Override (a local property tax increase) was the year 2000, before iPhones existed!

The Colorado state budget is significantly constrained and can no longer fund public K-12 education to the extent needed.

As a “remedy,” the Colorado legislature passed The Negative Factor in 2008 to limit funding for K-12 education due to the increasing demands of Medicaid funding in the state budget. As a result, School District 11 receives approximately $1,000 less PER PUPIL in every K-12 school than needed each year. It is essential, for the health and well-being of our children, that we make up this deficit at the local level.

This year my son is a 6th grader at Holmes Middle School.

For our family, passing the Mill Levy Override means maintaining the excellent education he receives in District 11. It means that his school will have money available for much-needed building maintenance, to attract and retain top-notch teachers and to maintain the technology that is essential for today’s students. In a larger sense, passing the MLO means a safer school environment for our children, with improved facilities, additional counselors, school-resource officers to improve services and safety for our children. Our children deserve the best education and as parents, we should help make this happen.

Please join me in voting yes on Ballot Measure 3E on November 7, to maintain and enhance the educational quality for our children in our District 11 schools.

 

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