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Thanks for support

Editor:

It is with profound gratitude that the family of Tom Hayden acknowledges the generosity and loving support of Evergreen Fire/Rescue, the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Department and the countless friends and acquaintances that surrounded our family with care during our most difficult hours and days.

We will be forever grateful to those who supplied us with nourishment, kind words and love. As our family imitates the legacy of Tom’s extraordinary life, we will remember the heartfelt kindness of our community.

the family of Tom Hayden

 

Clear Creek first responders are the best

Editor:

Your community is served by some of the best first responders in the state. The men and women of Clear Creek EMS are highly skilled, compassionate public servants.

Unfortunately, my family has needed their service a few times over the last 12 months; fortunately, when they called 911, the highly skilled and caring dispatchers at the Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office have answered the calls and dispatched the dependable professionals of CCEMS to provide exceptional care. The great officers of the ISPD also have responded.

I hope your readers appreciate these men and women. They respond to only 5 percent to 10 percent of the population, but they’re always ready regardless of who needs help.

Einar Jensen

Highlands Ranch

 

Numbers touting

toll-lane success are a joke

Editor:

Are the numbers in the article that states that the Interstate 70 toll lane is a success really accurate?

If so, I don’t understand how anyone with access to a calculator could consider the I-70 toll lane a success. The article states that only about 18,000 cars used the lane in 12 days of operation, with an average toll of $3. How is this anything but a complete and utter failure, and a huge red flag as to CDOT’s ability to repay the loan it has taken out for the project?

About 18,000 cars over 12 days of operation is about 1,500 cars per day using the toll lane. That would add up to a grand total of about 110,000 cars per year based on the 73 days it is allowed to operate by law. How many years of this will be needed to offset the hundreds of days that everyone was delayed throughout the corridor, both eastbound and westbound, in order to build the lane? How many cars were delayed?

In a year, the Eisenhower Tunnel moves more than 11 million cars, so even if only a quarter of those people were delayed by construction, that is more than 2.5 million cars delayed. 

And from this we consider 1,500 cars getting home faster on an average day that the lane is open a success that is getting national attention? I’m a bit shocked.

 Additionally, the article states that roughly $3.5 million needs to be raised per year by the toll lane to pay back the loan. At current rates (1,500 cars times 73 days times $3 per car) CDOT raises $328,500 in revenue. That puts this year’s shortfall at roughly $3.1 million. How can that possibly be considered a success? For this number of cars per day traveling the lane, CDOT would have to charge every car $30, and it would still fall short of the $3.5 million in tolls required per year.

To repay the loan, CDOT will need to raise on average $47,945 per day the lane operates. At $3 a car, that is 15,981 cars required to use the lane every day. On an average day in its busiest month (July), roughly 20,000 cars pass through the Eisenhower Tunnel eastbound. That means we’d need more than 75 percent of the traffic to use the toll lane, and we are getting 6 percent. I’d sure hate to be the people who took out that loan. Oh, I guess that was all of us.

I am looking for the place that someone might have dropped a zero, or maybe two or three zeroes from these numbers in the article, and I really hope that is what happened, but I think the stark reality is that we have fallen prey to CDOT mathematics.

Let a few cars get home quickly at the expense of hundreds of thousands, and bring in a trivial fraction of the money required to fund the project, and it’s a success because someone “feels” that there is less traffic on a service road. This is simply unbelievable. Heads should roll.

Somebody at CDOT needs to spend time with a calculator before considering this same type of project for westbound traffic. Please, it is time to move past fantasy and come to grips with the serious reality that these projects, as funded, are an insolvent, irresponsible failure.

Graham Knight

 

Clear Creek school board needs

to be more fiscally responsible

Editor:

As illustrated in the Clear Creek Courant article, “School board struggling to balance district’s 2016-17 budget” on Feb. 23, the mismanagement of the Clear Creek School District has put the district in a very precarious position.

Consider these facts:

As a result of Clear Creek’s biggest benefactor, the Henderson Mine, CCSD is one of only five districts out of Colorado’s 178 that is consistently fully funded. Due to Colorado’s funding laws, 97 percent of Colorado school districts face budget shortfalls from state funding annually, whereas CCSD does not.

In addition to its regular funding, CCSD also receives U.S. Forest Service revenues, generally amounting to around $200,000 per year.

Nearly 22 percent of Clear Creek’s school-age youth attend schools outside CCSD, which accounts for a loss of approximately $1.5 million to $2 million in revenue per year. In contrast, Gilpin County School District, which borders Boulder and Jefferson County school districts, sees only 6 percent of its youths attend other schools.

In the last five years, CCSD’s student population decreased 10 percent.

CCSD’s superintendent, financial officer, principals and more than 60 percent of its teachers do not live in Clear Creek and do not pay county taxes.

Given CCSD’s historically favorable budget conditions, small classes and student access to extracurricular activities, it is reasonable to expect CCSD to perform in the 80th to 90th percentile of all Colorado schools. Instead, CCSD languishes at or below the 50th percentile (see CDE SchoolView online).

In 2012, CCSD hired an independent research team to conduct a Comprehensive Appraisal for District Improvement. Based on this independent analysis, CCSD’s mediocre performance was confirmed. This subpar performance is due to the following:

CCSD is not a good steward of taxpayer money: CCSD does not have an academic performance-based budget (see CADI, Page 29). Funds are not focused on academic priorities, and taxpayer money supports redundant administration costs and high-paid positions that produce negligible academic outcomes.

Lack of commitment to the success of CCSD: Many teachers and administrators resisted CCSD’s plan to become a high-performing district. Personal interests were placed ahead of district priorities. The teachers who now face pay freezes are some of the same teachers who opposed efforts to consolidate the middle and high school and eliminate non-academic performance-based positions three years ago. Had those initiatives been supported, CCSD would have saved approximately $1 million to date, which should have been reinvested in improving the quality of education and could have prepared CCSD to weather the budget shortcomings it now faces.

Taxpayers are not engaged: Research shows the success of a school district is directly proportional to the level of community engagement. Clear Creek taxpayers are not engaged with CCSD. Almost all Board of Education members run uncontested. Public attendance is low at board meetings. As a result, CCSD is not held accountable by taxpayers, which gives complete control of CCSD to non-taxpaying administrators and teachers and a school board that has run unopposed.

The Henderson Mine closing is not the cause of this current budget crisis. Given the information above, it is clear CCSD has failed to manage taxpayer money appropriately.

CCSD belongs to and needs to be held accountable by the citizens of Clear Creek County. Clear Creek County needs to regain control of its schools before it is too late. The taxpayers of Clear Creek County should demand the following:

• All budget meetings, including committee meetings, must be open to the public. CCSD must make very difficult budget decisions soon. The community must have access to the financial conversation and be able to demand CCSD make the changes necessary to improve.

• CCSD should receive no U.S. Forest Service monies other than the 25 percent mandated by law. Until CCSD shows it can educate its students better than 97 percent of Colorado districts that are not as well funded, Forest Service money should fund other county initiatives.

• No mill-levy increase until CCSD demonstrates it will be a good steward of taxpayer money. Until CCSD exhibits the desire to perform in alignment with its exceptional level of funding, additional funding is a waste of taxpayer money.

Clear Creek County, take back your schools! Do not let CCSD leadership continue to waste your taxpayer money. Do not let the superintendent and Board of Education make budget decisions about your money behind closed doors. Do not let the district continue to boast financial stability at the expense of your students’ mediocre education.

If the Board of Education and the superintendent do not meet your rightful demands by June 30, the board should be recalled and replaced, and the superintendent and her leadership team should be dismissed.

Todd Lancaster

former CCSD superintendent