Schools win big ‘yes!’

Kudos to voters for supporting education

What an immense relief it is to discover that the local habit of voting no on nearly everything has ended with the passage of 3B, the bond issue that will fund construction of a state-of-the-art high school for Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1.

Voters also supported a bond issue for the Dolores school district and a mill levy increase for the Mancos schools.

All three of those victories are a credit to local voters who looked past partisan politics and economic uncertainty to invest in the future of their children and their communities.

Proponents of the M-CHS bond, ably led by Becky Brunk and Orly Lucero, did an excellent job of making sure everyone in the district had accurate information. They ran an entirely positive campaign and responded civilly to the few people who tried to provoke them. All elections should be conducted so well.

The merits of the proposal — a $42 million state-of-the-art new school to replace an aging building, with more than half of the bill paid by a grant not funded by taxpayer money, at a time when borrowing and building costs are low — were solid.

3B garnered the support of the Cortez Area Chamber of Commerce, the Montezuma Community Economic Development Association, local business owners and healthcare providers, and two of the three candidates in the District 3 county commission race, including the winner, Larry Don Suckla. Besides those who misunderstood the proposal, opposition was limited to two groups: those who disagreed with the need, and those who were politically inclined to vote against any tax increase. While the unaffordability of a higher tax bill no doubt influenced votes in private, relatively few people argued against 3B on that basis.

Now Re-1 adds another big challenge to its already long list: managing this project while maintaining its focus on educating our children. Educational achievement must continue to be addressed; teacher salaries are subpar, and other school buildings remain in need of substantial work.

The local economy will benefit greatly from this expenditure. The district’s commitment to help local contractors be successful in the bidding process is laudable. The greatest benefit, however, accrues to those who will use the building.

Congratulations and thanks to all who worked so hard for 3A, 3B and 3C.