Letter to the Editor: Understanding MEF funding for track

Dear Editor:
This is an open letter to the residents of Meeker School District to better help them understand the Meeker Education Foundation funding for the school district track at Meeker High School.
The Meeker Education Foundation (MEF) chose to pursue the replacement of the school district’s track for multiple reasons — and to do so without school district money. The much-needed project will be primarily funded with dollars that cannot go into the classroom, and the balance will come from private donations.
The 30-year-old facility has exceeded its life expectancy by 10 years and is beyond repair. It sees wide community use and, most importantly, our students’ safety is at risk while they continue to practice on the site.
Liability issues increase as the track’s condition worsens and,without such an overhaul,the school district’s track and field programs will be in jeopardy. It should be noted that our schools’ track and field programs have the largest participation of any school activity.
It is a known fact that students who participate in activities perform better in the classroom. Additionally, Meeker will be able to host track meets if it has a safe facility. This, in turn, benefits our local economy.
The ERBM Recreation & Park District is a major partner in the project and has committed $400,000 to the construction of this new facility. Like all special tax-supported districts, they can only legally contribute to those undertakings which fit their mission statement. Therefore, recreation district dollars cannot go to supplement the Meeker School District’s General Fund and its academic pursuits.
Also, a Great Outdoors Colorado LPOR grant application was submitted for the project on March 5. GOCO grant dollars are only awarded for parks and recreation, a classification for which the track qualifies.
It is difficult for a school district to adequately maintain its taxpayers’ assets when budgets are in distress, but when there is an opportunity to do so with dollars which cannot be used otherwise, it is a benefit to all.
The new track will serve our schools and our community for another 20 years — the projected life of a track’s asphalt base. Every effort has been made to ensure the project demonstrates good stewardship of taxpayer assets and revenues invested. For these reasons, the project has earned broad support.
The Meeker Education Foundation provides many ways to support their mission to “support and enhance educational opportunities for the Meeker School District by providing independent resources.”
Donations can be made to the MEF’s Endowment Fund (in time it will lend a degree of security to the school district), directly to the School District General Fund budget through the Donate School program, or to the track project — the Foundation’s 2014 Annual Fund project. Please go to www.meekereducationfoundation.org for more information.
Thank you for your understanding and consideration.
Becky Hughes, Mandi Etheridge,
Laurie Simonsen, Tom Allen,
Jerry Oldland, Mary Strang
Meeker Education Foundation
Board of Directors