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Rock Canyon High School's Student Newspaper

the Rock Online

Rock Canyon High School's Student Newspaper

the Rock Online

Rock Canyon High School's Student Newspaper

the Rock Online

Editorial: Make or Break Vote Takes Place This Tuesday

Our take on 5A and 5B and why you should vote yes.
Assistant+Principal+Mandi+Zimmerman+uses+car+markers+to+write+messages+in+support+of+passing+5A+and+5B+on+cars+in+the+upper+lot+during+Parent+Teacher+Conferences+Oct.+12.+As+Assistant+Principals%2C+Zimmerman+and+Karli+Bloom+did+not+need+to+meet+with+parents%2C+painting+an+estimated+40+cars.+Teachers+and+parents+marked+their+cars+with+sticky+notes+if+they+wanted+their+cars+painted.+On+the+evening+of+conferences%2C+Ms.+Bloom+and+I+were+not+officially+working+that+evening%2C+we+had+prearranged+absences.++We+were+using+our+personal+time+to+write+on+the+cars+with+Mr.+Abners+permission%2C+Zimmerman+said.
media by Claire Bauer
Assistant Principal Mandi Zimmerman uses car markers to write messages in support of passing 5A and 5B on cars in the upper lot during Parent Teacher Conferences Oct. 12. As Assistant Principals, Zimmerman and Karli Bloom did not need to meet with parents, painting an estimated 40 cars. Teachers and parents marked their cars with sticky notes if they wanted their cars painted. “On the evening of conferences, Ms. Bloom and I were not officially working that evening, we had prearranged absences. We were using our personal time to write on the cars with Mr. Abner’s permission,” Zimmerman said.

Every year, November rolls around, and with that, so does Election Day. This year, there are important matters on the table. 

The Issue:

According to U.S. News, Rock Canyon High School is ranked number 21 in the state, number 725 in the National Rating and number two in Douglas County School District (DCSD). The school maintains a graduation rate of 97%, an 89% in Reading Proficiency and 55% of students have passed an AP exam, all of which remain above the state averages. This year, almost 20 students qualified for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

While the Jags hold titles such as State Champions in boys golf and boys cross country, and winners, runner-ups or recipients in many other activities, athletics and scholarship programs, surrounding schools such as Mountain Vista, ThunderRidge and more hold similar accomplishments. 

According to Douglas County School District, DCSD is the third-largest district in Colorado: 90 schools and 63,000 students. As mentioned in Fox 31, Douglas County is ranked number nine for the richest county in the U.S. 

And yet, as of 2018, according to DCSD, the district is considerably less funded than other districts in nearby areas. 

For example, according to a post by @DCSDK12 on X, Douglas County’s average funding per student is $1,167– $2,072 less than Cherry Creek’s $3,239 per student. The teacher pay in DCSD starts at $45,209, which averages to be $20,000 less than neighboring school districts, such as Cherry Creek School District and Littleton Public Schools

As a result, students have to pay for more of their “free public education,” including necessities such as books and transportation in comparison to these other districts.  

Due to these issues, legislation such as 5A and 5B are being voted on by Douglas County residents Nov. 7 in hopes of improving areas such as school building, security and teacher pay. 

5A: Teacher Pay, School Staff & Security 

5A is a Mill Levy Override (MLO) for operating expenses. According to CBS News, $60 million of the $66 million mill levy would increase pay for staff by about 9%. The remaining $6 million would be used for security, such as School Resource Officers.

“5A specifically addresses the teacher pay gap that exists between Douglas County and Littleton, Cherry Creek and Denver,” Principal Andrew Abner said. “If we pass 5A, then it will make us more competitive, which will allow us to hire great teachers and retain great teachers and not lose them to [other] school districts. 5A also has additional funding for security and safety.”

5B: Buildings and Maintenance

5B is a $484 million bond for capital investments. This includes the creation of school buildings in areas such as Sterling Ranch, The Canyons and Crystal Valley, as well as maintenance and repairs across the district.

“5B is capital needs. Have you ever been in a classroom where you’re just totally sweating? Things like that, heating units, cooling units, HVAC, all that stuff are examples of a capital need at Rock Canyon High School that needs to be replaced,” Abner said.

Together, 5A and 5B would increase property taxes by $20 a year per hundred thousand in home value. For example, on $1 million homes, taxes would increase by $200 a year, which breaks down to about $17 a month. 

“5A and 5B are both incredibly important and both will address some of the most significant needs that we have as a district,” Assistant Principal Karly Bloom said. “It will help schools obtain more School Resource Officers and update locks and doors that might be areas of weakness throughout the building.”

If the legislation passes, the property taxes would be collected at the increased value starting in March. The increased teacher salary would also take effect this year.

“Secondly, it will help us retain and recruit excellent teachers,” Bloom said. “There is a significant pay gap between Douglas County School District and all of the other large, front-range districts. Our teachers can drive to Cherry Creek Schools, Jeffco Schools, Littleton Schools–which are not far away–and make thousands more to do the same job that they do at Rock Canyon.”

According to a poll conducted by @rcrockmedia on Instagram, 80% of voters voted yes to being aware of the election and 5A and 5B.

Of those who responded, 91% were in support of 5A and 5B passing. Of the 9% who responded in opposition to the legislation passing, 40% of those had also responded that they were unaware of what that legislation was.

“I’m 18. I’m a senior. I plan on voting yes. I think it’s really important to give our teachers more because they are everything to us right now,” Sophia Zakhem ‘24 said. ”I’m very excited to have my voice heard. I think that it’s important for students who are 18 to get their voices out there.”

Voting polls, Ballot Drop Box Locations and Voter Service and Polling Centers open at 7 a.m. Nov. 7.  Students over the age of 18 are also eligible to vote in this election. 

DCSD also allows for registered voters to vote by mail using mail-in ballots which should have been received by Oct. 25. If you have not received your mail-in ballot, you may contact the election office at 303-660-7444 for a replacement ballot.

“Rock Canyon has lost excellent teachers over the years, each of whom would lament having to leave a school that they love, just so they could prioritize their family’s needs,” Bloom said. “It’s always a great day to be a Jag, but it’s tough when you struggle to buy a home or pay a mortgage or can’t help with your own children’s college tuition.”

Our Opinion:

You need to vote. You need to vote yes. You need to bring your voting-age family, tell your friends, teach your kids. 5A and 5B must pass. 

Change can only be made if individuals vote for the Mill Levy Override (5A) and the bond (5B). Students’ future education, the reputation of our schools and the long-term success of the district rely on your vote in favor of this legislation. 

“I remember when I started in this district, about 34 years ago, we passed [bonds] all the time,” substitute Margaret Motz said. “Morale was great and everyone wanted to teach in Douglas County. To get a job here was so valued, and for every job that was posted, there were tons of teachers applying. We have a very contentious school board, and I think that turns a lot of people off.” 

According to DCSD, DCSD is one of the wealthiest and fastest-growing counties in the country. And yet, we’re so behind, and one of the lowest-paying districts in the area. 

The money is for kids. It’s for safety. It’s supporting students and supplies and overall well-being. Teacher salaries are a huge component. As consumers, parents and families expect the best teachers for their students–and they have to pay for that. 

More money for the county means bus drivers. It means more janitors–at our school, we had one janitor last year. One janitor was responsible for over 2,500 people. This year, we have three janitors, which is still two short of the goal.

“Five or 10 years ago we would have had hundreds of applicants for a single teacher position. Today we have five, or even zero. We started this school year with 104 open bus driver positions with zero applicants. So, we had to do the rolling bus cancellations. We had no choice,” DCSD Superintendent Erin Kane said in an article done by CBS News

Can’t we all agree that we want our children to be learning in safe, well-kept environments? Shouldn’t they get the best teachers, and opportunities to take a bus to school? Shouldn’t resources such as heating, lock changes, Student Resources Officers and more be essentials?

In any job environment, different companies compete to have the best offer to obtain the best employees. Right now, Douglas County is no longer a “best offer,” and that’s showing. Teachers don’t have resources. Job availabilities barely get filled. 

No matter our differences, we’re a community, and shouldn’t we come together to do what we can to support each other? To support this community?

“Even if you don’t have kids in Douglas County Schools, it’s important because it’s for the public good. You want the students of Douglas County to grow up to be good, informed citizens, right? And that’s what’s going to happen if they get a good education. So it’s an investment in our future,” Motz said.

Although those in opposition to this legislation may believe that teachers in the district are unmotivated to teach or undeserving of increased salaries, it’s just the opposite: great teachers become unmotivated to teach when they feel unsupported. Teachers who are deserving of great salaries won’t come to work here unless we offer an increased amount.

The main opposition to [5A and 5B] is that people do not want that tax to be paid, even though it’s a small amount,” Student Advisory Group (SAG) member Vihaan Kalra ‘25 said. “If you have more teachers, you’ll have a better experience at school. For going to public school for free, I think it’s a small price you can pay to get a better education.”

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