As Mountain Valley School superintendent and advocate for kids, I struggle with what many would interpret as a deliberate attempt to sway voters by circulating totally false information to prevent our children from gaining equal access to educational opportunities.
A recent article written by Mrs. Katharine Walter, who appears to be a new transplant to Saguache from Arkansas via Texas, is riddled with entirely false and unsubstantiated accusations from beginning to end. She clearly does not have our community’s best interest at heart and does not care to understand the current educational situation here in Saguache, Colorado. Her allegations are not supported by a single source or fact. I believe that everyone has a right to an opinion but not the right to make up “facts,” especially when they could so easily damage the future of our children.
Mrs. Walter begins her article by trying to analyze the budget and incorrectly stating that there are 113 students and staff at Mountain Valley. That number is actually a total of 170 students and staff. Her unacceptable error of 57 represents a 50% variance and prohibits any type of accurate budget analysis.
She continues by claiming that excess money was spent on two new SUVs for staff to drive. Mrs. Walter conveniently omits the fact that these purchases were student activity vehicles to replace unsafe vehicles with over 200,000 miles on each of them. Mountain Valley School had not purchased a new activity vehicle in 10 years! This can be verified by school budget records.
Additionally, Mrs. Walter falsely claimed as “fact” that Mountain Valley School is overpaying its teachers with salaries above the state average. In reality, the facts are that the average teacher salary at Mountain Valley School is $32,776 per year while the Colorado state average is $51,810. Mountain Valley teachers are paid $19,000 less per year than the state average. These facts can be checked on the Colorado Department of Education website at https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdereval/average-salaries-for-teachers-pdf.
Mrs. Walter concludes with a claim that Mountain Valley should not have purchased a used bus to replace a worn-out route bus with over 200,000 miles on it. She stated that the “buses are designed to last one million miles.” Todd Ducommun from Rocky Mountain Bus Sales was contacted and he noted that “most school buses are retired when their mileage is between 200,000-300,000 miles.” And many of these school buses operate in cities and are not forced to withstand washboard and rutted dirt roads! Mr. Ducommun also stated that he had never seen or heard of a school bus with one million miles on it and thought Mrs. Walter’s claim was “stretching the truth quite a bit.”
In closing, I would like to ask everyone to become informed voters and not fall prey to intentional misinformation. Please check the facts, ask questions, and make good decisions regarding the future of our children.