Grassroots St Vrain is an independent, non-profit organization made up of hundreds of volunteers committed to informing and activating citizens on education related issues in the greater St Vrain Valley towns of Longmont, Niwot, Hygiene, Lyons, Mead, Erie, and the tri-town area of Dacono, Firestone, and Frederick, Colorado.
Formed in 2008 to support Mill Levy Override (MLO) and Bond initiatives for the 26,000 students in 49 schools across the St Vrain Valley School District (SVVSD), Grassroots St Vrain made history. With the support of volunteers from every community, we succeeded in our first campaign. The MLO was the first to pass in district history and on the heels of a defeat in 2004 by 158 votes and again in 2005 with 54% against. The difference in passing with 57% of the vote, in the midst of a recession, was citizens fully informed on how education impacts every aspect of a community, not just teachers and students, but local businesses, home values, and the ability to attract employers.
Our success immediately led to improved student-to-teacher ratios, restored teacher positions, expanded program choices, retention and improvement of curriculum, repairs and updates to aged facilities, increased technology investments in the classroom, and the construction of two new schools. The grassroots efforts of SVVSD parents and citizens not only put our district on solid financial ground – it allowed us to become one of the strongest and most competitive districts on the Front Range.
In the wake of the 2008 campaign, Grassroots St Vrain realized community awareness is not just a once a campaign issue. The State of Colorado ranks among the bottom in our Country on every education related funding issue, and has the most restrictive State legislation in the country, making a solution extremely difficult to achieve. We believe our country’s global leadership and economic strength is inextricably linked to innovation, the seeds of which are knowledge and education. Our goal is to make education a priority one community at a time – first in our School District, then the State. We hope other communities see the remarkable progress we have made in coming together as an informed and influential community.
Our decision to take the voice of our local community to the State couldn’t have come at a more critical time. The down-turn in our economy significantly reduced state revenue resulting in deep cuts in education funding. Sadly, nearly 2/3 of what we achieved through our MLO and Bond Initiatives in 2008 has been erased by State budget cuts.
If not our communities, if not now, then who will fight to make education a priority and when will they get around to it? Our future is being decided now. Our goal is to make sure our communities know what is at stake while the future may still be written.