Archive for September, 2008

Blue Mountain Elementary School

September 21, 2008

I was asked to say a few words at the Blue Mountin Elementary School Grand Opening on Friday.  Here's what I said:

Thank you Principal Venrick.

It is a privilege to be here to represent the community and my fellow board members at the Grand Opening of Blue Mountain Elementary School.

As others have noted, this is a celebration of the hard work of many people over many years.  My first experience with Blue Mountain took place in a cramped conference room as parents, teachers and Mrs. Venrick – working together as a planning team – put ideas from community coffee talks into the school's action plan.  It is wonderful to see the results.

I can think of no better symbol of a community's hopes and aspirations for the future than a brand new elementary school.  Blue Mountain – along with Black Rock and Centennial in other parts of our district – is a physical testimonial that we respect our children, we are committed to a better future and we're willing to back up our aspirations with our dollars.  Blue Mountain is a concrete symbol of walking the talk.

Students… Congratulations.  Tonight is a celebration that each and every one of you is a leader.  For now and forever, you are first.  You are the first 5th, 4th, and 3rd graders; the first 2nd, 1st, Kindergarten and preschoolers to walk these halls.  The examples you set this year will influence the direction of Blue Mountain for years to come.  I know you will make your families proud.

Parents, I am excited for you.  As a fellow elementary school parent, I know how magical these years are.  I am excited that your families have the opportunity to be part of this new Blue Mountain community.  I am excited that your children will have the opportunity to be part of the schools science, technology and inquiry program.

Teachers and staff, thank you.  As a parent and a board member, I appreciate the stewardship role you play in our children's lives.  I already can hear the stories that these students will tell when they are my age about the special role you played in their lives.

I also want to take a moment to thank a special group of people who helped to make tonight possible.  Several years ago, before any of these elementary students were in school, before some of them were born, a group of people with an eye toward the future organized into a grassroots committee.  Though none of the people who were part of this group have any children in elementary school now, they worked countless hours as volunteers to rally the community to support a bond that made Blue Mountain possible.

It is time to rally the community again.  While we are here to celebrate Blue Mountain's new beginning, we face challenges as a school district.

Our neighbors to the  north and south take for granted small class sizes.  Our class sizes are growing.  Our neighbors take for granted competitive teacher pay.  We're falling behind.  Our neighbors take for granted a broad range of programming at all grade levels.  We're cutting back.

At the urging of many people in the community the school board chose to put two place two referendums – 3A and 3B – on the ballot.  On November 4th, we have the opportunity as a community to renew our commitment to our children, to ensure that our community remains a place that families want to call home and to keep our teachers in the St. Vrain Valley.

More than 800 volunteers have already stepped up to help with this effort.  For those of you here who are volunteers, thank you.  I encourage others to do the same.  Visit

So, as we celebrate Blue Mountain's Grand Opening, let us remember the those who did the hard work that made tonight possible and let us keep an eye on the future, too.

Congratulations Blue Mountain.  Congratulations to all of us who are proud to call the St. Vrain Valley home.


Comparing School Funding

September 3, 2008

I have been asked for evidence that St. Vrain is among the lowest funded districts in the country.


Colorado is low compared to the nation.  Consider these numbers.


St. Vrain is low compared to districts in Colorado.  Consider these numbers.


Even if voters to decide to approve the $16.5 million mill levy override, we will continue to lag behind most districts.