SAGUACHE— Mountain Valley School superintendent Travis Garoutte responded on Facebook last week to an article that appeared in the Saguache Crescent last week, which he feels could be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to sway voters.
He says the author of the article is circulating totally false information to prevent MVS children from gaining equal access to educational opportunities.
The article was written by Katherine Walter, who apparently came to Saguache from Arkansas via Texas. Garoutte comments the article, “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.”
His greatest concern is that the 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.”
In the article, Walter attempts to analyze the MVS budget, incorrectly stating there are 113 students and staff at Mountain Valley. Garoutte corrected the number to 127 students and 43 staff members for a total of 170, noting this “error” prohibits “any type of accurate budget analyzation.”
Walter also claims excess money was spent on two new SUVs for school staff to drive, but omits the fact these were student activity vehicles purchased 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,” Garoutte pointed out. This can be verified by school budget records.
“Additionally, Walter falsely claimed as ‘fact’ that Mountain Valley School is overpaying its teachers with salaries above the state average,” Garoutte protested. “In reality, the average teacher salary at Mountain Valley School is $32,776 per year while the Colorado state average is $51,810,” meaning 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.
Walter concludes with the 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.”
Garoutte contacted Todd Ducommun from Rocky Mountain Bus sales who noted: “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.
“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,’” Garoutte observed.
Other misinformation also surfaced on Facebook last week and resulted in some comments being removed and members banned.
Garoutte asks everyone to “become informed voters and not fall prey to fabricated misinformation. Please check the facts, ask questions and make good decisions regarding the future of our children.”