Before you vote on Amendment 66; our damaged trail system

By: Letters
October 12, 2013 Updated: October 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm
photo - Centennial Elementary School third grade teacher Talya Young engages her students in an exercise during class Tuesday, August 13, 2013. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
Centennial Elementary School third grade teacher Talya Young engages her students in an exercise during class Tuesday, August 13, 2013. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette 

Before you vote on Amendment 66

In a recent Gazette, Michael Selden made this assertion of fact: "Nationally, the rate of inflation for education has been several times the broad rate of inflation, and yet, despite increasing costs by several times in inflation-adjusted dollars, it has but yielded effectively zero results." Not true, with respect to costs. Since 2002 in inflation-adjusted dollars, the expenditure per pupil across the U.S. has increased 8.3 percent. For instruction alone, it has risen 10.6 percent. Part of this increase is explained by the growth in special education during this same period: a 28.5 percent increase in students with limited English proficiency and a 1.5 percent increase in students needing individualized education programs.

More to the point of Amendment 66, what about Colorado over the same period? In inflation-adjusted dollars, the expenditure per pupil has decreased 0.13 percent and expenditure on instruction per pupil has increased 1.97 percent. The number of students with limited English proficiency has increased 40.54 percent and those needing individualized education, 14.65 percent. With respect to results, what's Selden's evidence? There is a lot of research on how to measure of educational outcomes, but no conclusive evidence. Before you vote on Amendment 66 (or anything else) get the facts.

Bruce Fogarty

Colorado Springs

Sabotaging the taxpayers

The letter from Sharon Karson in the Oct. 2 paper is very good except that she blames the Republicans for the shutdown and all the political nonsense we have been subjected to recently. The blame should rightfully be placed at the feet of all of the politicians, including Obama.

This country was founded with the idea that we all need to get a long, and while we might not like some things we still need to compromise! I do not see compromise coming from the White House, Obama's statement that nothing is negotiable, shows me he has no management or people skills.

Sabotage is happening to the taxpayer for the personal gain of Obama and elected officials, right along with the destruction of a free society.

Alice Hawes

Colorado Springs

This is the height of hypocrisy

I think I speak for many Americans when I say that my heart goes out to all those who were affected by the devastation that the flooding in Colorado has produced. Those of us living in New York faced similar circumstances caused by Hurricane Sandy last year. Many are still rebuilding. Unfortunately, it took months for Congress to approve a spending bill to help New Yorkers, when in other instances of natural disasters around the country, it has usually been completed in days. Colorado Reps. Doug Lamborn, Scott Tipton, Mike Coffman, and Cory Gardner (all Republicans), who all opposed providing aid to Sandy victims, have suddenly reversed course when disaster struck in Colorado.

This is the height of hypocrisy and why nothing seems to get done by our government in Washington. I hope the constituents of these representatives remember these actions when it is time to go to polls.

Dan Kozak

Newburgh, NY

Our damaged natural playground

As hikers, bicyclists and equestrians attempt to return to favorite open spaces and trails, they are finding that last month's torrential rains extracted a heavy toll. Whole sections of trail are gone, some pedestrian bridges are badly damaged, and many roads in our regional parks and open spaces are requiring major repairs.

Volunteers are eager to help, and there will be work for them to do. But some of these repairs will require engineering, heavy machinery and outside help.

It goes without saying, the safety of the trail-using public must be our top priority as these repairs are made. If it takes a little longer and means trail users need to be patient, so be it. There should be no pressure on our city and county parks departments to rush and reopen favorite parks and trails if it means compromised safety.

We are told that the damage to city park properties is likely to cost over $4 million to repair. Federal dollars might pay for part of it, but that will take time. How will we pay for this, and should we?

We hear repeatedly from our community leaders, business community, visitors and residents - our trails, open spaces and parks are magnets for new business and tourists. They are the reason many people choose to move to this region.

They are critical to this region's quality of life. Residents, visitors and neighbors have come to expect a safe experience when they use parks like North Cheyenne Canon, Red Rock Open Space or Palmer Park.

If we don't spend the dollars to repair our trail system properly - what will happen? People are likely to begin using them again - safe or unsafe. Eventually, the same national press that wrote about our closed bathrooms and lack of trash cans will return and write about our damaged natural playground - especially if someone gets hurt. Imagine the effect on tourism and our national reputation. Plus we're putting residents at risk.

When the economy tanked several years ago, local parks, trails and open spaces shouldered far more than their fair share of the general fund budget cuts. The general fund plummeted from $237 million to $212 million - parks share went from $19 million to $3 million. Sales and property tax revenue have improved. The general fund is expected to be back to around $243 million for 2014. It's only fair that our beloved, damaged public spaces tap into some of that surplus and get the adequate help they need.

We are asking our community to speak up in defense of these assets, and support a course of action that makes them safe for all users.

Susan Davies, Trails and Open Space Coalition

Colorado Springs

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