A vote for the future


The issue: 

The city needs a well-educated workforce to meet business demands.

What we think: 

The collaborative effort to pass the mill levies in three local school districts indicates the city is ready to invest in the future.

On Election Day, voters in Colorado Springs made a decision to invest in the city’s children — tomorrow’s workforce — and passed funding measures for School District 11, as did voters in Widefield School District 3, Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 and Peyton School District.

It’s no small feat to get tax increases in Colorado Springs — but don’t take this victory as a sign that the city has suddenly become Boulder. It hasn’t.

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Local residents, however, finally seem to understand the value of investing in infrastructure (we were once too cheap to turn on our street lights) and the importance of having a well-educated workforce to meet business needs.

Education and business go hand in hand. Businesses can’t move here, start here or expand here without an appropriately trained workforce to fill available positions. We’ve seen a dearth of skilled employees lately in industries ranging from mid-level construction and manufacturing to cybersecurity.

It makes sense to invest now in the workforce of tomorrow, while working with the Pikes Peak Workforce Center, UCCS, Pikes Peak Community College and local high schools to prepare for today’s needs as well.

We’ll be watching to make sure the trust we’ve placed in the districts’ leadership isn’t misplaced — and we expect to start seeing stronger teacher retention, smaller classes and cutting-edge tech equipment.

D-11 promised to spend the money to upgrade infrastructure, install new roofs, improve parking lots and upgrade some of the city’s oldest schools. It can’t be used for additional administrators or other needs that don’t directly benefit students.

Cleaner, safer, more technologically advanced schools will create learning environments to develop a workforce that can compete with cities like Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins — and metro areas across the nation.

The move sets the stage for a brighter future for the Pikes Peak region and the local economy. It’s why the Business Journal favored the D-11 initiative, and it’s why support for the mill levy override came from the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC, the Colorado Springs Housing & Building Association, and the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors. Support for the proposal ran the gamut — left and right — and shows what is possible when we all work together.

It failed a year ago, hampered by a lack of cohesive messaging, divisive national rhetoric and a nasty presidential campaign. What a difference a year makes: City leaders worked together with a grassroots team and it paid off for the future workforce.

As the economy continues its upward swing, it pays to be prepared for the inevitable downturns. As the Springs diversifies its economy and adds jobs in a widening range of sectors, the workforce must be ready to meet the new demand — and if it is, the city will be able to ride out the next recession with less hardship and fewer job losses than during the most recent downturn.

Let’s hope that we can continue to work collaboratively and productively to improve the Pikes Peak region. When we all get on the same page, our school districts, their residents, the students and the local economy can all flourish together.