Free Pre K in the Mountains in Summit County, CO (S2E7)

Summit County, Colorado is one of the premier vacation spots, but for the folks that live and work there, it can be expensive. Hear how the county has stepped in to help with Pre-K and allowed many folks to keep living there.

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Free Pre K in the Mountains in Summit County, CO (S2E7) Transcription

Carol D’Auria: This is the good government show.

Lucinda Burns: So we are a resort community. We most of our jobs are in retail, restaurant and lodging. They are not particularly high paying jobs, but they’re very labor intensive jobs. We have a real need for a strong and consistent workforce and so childcare becomes critical, I think. So many people have learned during this recent pandemic how important it is to have childcare in order to keep people in the workplace.

And that’s something that we’ve known here in Summit County for many years.

Catherine Shaaf: You know, our children are performing really well across the board, so we’re really excited about that. I think the story that is important to tell is how much support we’ve given and financial relief we’ve given to these working families. We’re averaging about $800 a month per child for their tuition credit.

And then so that’s a yearly savings, about 12 to $15000 a year. And I think that is monumental for parents. I’ve gotten some anecdotes from them that it just has allowed them to continue to live here in our community.

Carol D’Auria: Welcome to the Good Government Show. I’m Carol Deloria.

David Martin: And I’m Dave Martin. And on this episode of The Good Government Show, we’re talking about something we both had to deal with. Carol, both of us, and something every parent can relate to. That’s child care and that’s what this story is about. So as you listen, make sure to follow us and please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter.

And please rate us where you’re listening to us right now. Well, not right now. You know, listen and then go back and read it. But it helps us bring you more good stories of good government action, good stories like this one. So, Carol, you have two kids. They’re grown now. But once you had to have help raising those kids.

Carol D’Auria: Oh, I did. I did. So what happened was I was really lucky. My family is not only are we close in our relationship, but they were physically close by. My parents lived two blocks away. My sister lived, you know, about ten blocks.

David Martin: That’s because you people on Long Island never leave.

Carol D’Auria: We never leave, right? Yeah, exactly. And so for a long time, they all watched my kids. It got a little more difficult as they started to grow up.

David Martin: Your parents were there. They helped, right?

Carol D’Auria: Right. And then as they grew up, though, then they started to my kids had their own schedules. So it got to be a little too much. And I had to hire paid help.

David Martin: Well, I was lucky, too. So when my daughter was really young, when she was little, my wife’s mother, she was pretty close by. So she’d watch the kid and then her sister. For the first few years, she lived like directly across the street. It was it was great. It was like the only place. But that was the first place my daughter could go to by herself.

She was very excited. Can go to an area that’s kind of getting married. US. So imagine that you didn’t have that. Imagine you’re working your job on the radio. You have late shifts, you have overnight shifts, had weekend shifts. And it was just you, maybe your husband or maybe just you and your kids.

Carol D’Auria: And that would have been so, so hard not to have family around. Oh, I can’t imagine.

David Martin: Right. Agreed. And look, childcare is so important and can be so difficult and it can be expensive, especially if you can’t afford full time daycare or an in-house nanny or an in-house babysitter. And it’s just, you know, it’s just one of those things you don’t really think about. And so you have your kids and you have to go back to work or have a life.

Carol D’Auria: Exactly. And you know, when you have a baby, you don’t immediately think, well, who am I going to get to watch this kid? You’re so busy going cuckoo that, you know, you wouldn’t think about.

David Martin: That right now. Imagine you have to do this. Imagine you’re a mom to kids. Imagine you have to do this in a beautiful, expensive tourist mountain resort. Yes, I’m talking about a town with the multimillion dollar vacation homes. This is a place for the 1%. You have private jets taking you on and off and lands.

Carol D’Auria: You really get into this?

David Martin: Well, you could if you you know.

Carol D’Auria: One of the tour offers there.

David Martin: You might this is a county of vacation homes. It’s where some of the best skiing is in the nation in the summer. They folks go there for the rafting, for the hiking, they go for mountain biking. And it’s all of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. This is Summit County in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Carol D’Auria: Wow, Colorado. First you went to West Virginia. Now you’re telling you another story from another mountain ridge. I love it.

David Martin: Exactly. Well, listen here on the good government show, we we travel the country to bring great stories to our good government show listeners. So. Okay, Summit County, it’s about halfway between Aspen and Denver and it got its name from the many summits in the mountains. The in the area is also one of the highest elevations of any county in the United States.

David Martin: So it’s it’s up there. The mountains. One summit was a booming mining town back in the 1800s. Now it’s a booming vacation town. In fact, a buddy of mine, well, we call him Spike. Let’s call him.

Carol D’Auria: Spike.

David Martin: Spike. Spike has a vacation home there and he just loves it. He’s had this house. He’s at the bottom of Copper Mountain. That’s one of the many ski slopes in the county. And he’s had his home there for 20 years and he’s been skiing out there for almost 40 years.

Carol D’Auria: Figures you would know somebody named Spike in Summit.

David Martin: I know Spike in Summit. But listen, I could never describe this place. I’m going to have Elizabeth Lawrence and she’s one of the county commissioners. I’m going to have her describe her home.

Elizabeth Lawrence: Summit County is the most visited national forest in the United States, has four world class ski resorts and hosts millions of visitors a year, year round, both for snow skiing and other outdoor recreation.

David Martin: What do people do when they’re not skiing there?

Elizabeth Lawrence: They mountain bike. They enjoy our rivers. They fish lots of hiking. Summit County was originally a mining county, a mining town. Breckenridge was a historic mining town where gold was found in Colorado early on in fact, and kind of the pre California gold rush 1859 is when miners first descended in our Summit County area. And so there’s a lot of history there, mining relics, mines that are still open.

So a lot of people are coming for historical aspects. And then we do have a lot of art programs and that are becoming increasingly popular.

David Martin: As you probably guessed, Elizabeth’s not from there. Look.

Carol D’Auria: I heard the Southern accent.

David Martin: Exactly like many of the summit residents. She came from somewhere else. Her home is in Arkansas, but she came to Summit to ski and she stayed and she has a daughter. And when she was a single parent, she needed child care. And her childcare solution is a little different. But she went to a school and offered her skills as a fundraiser to get her kid into pre-K, which allowed her stay in the area.

Carol D’Auria: Wow. That was that’s actually very creative. But I’m wondering how typical.

David Martin: That the fundraising part’s not typical. But yeah, pretty much everyone I talk to their from somewhere else. They all moved to Summit or to the city of Breckenridge. That’s the biggest city in Summit County, or they went to other towns. Like I said, Spike has a house in Copper Mountain. They Silverthorne, Frisco, Dillon. You come there to be outdoors.

Skiing is the biggest draw. Snowboarding, too, but there’s also other outdoor activities. Remember, we’re up in the Rocky Mountains. And what this means is, is that most folks don’t have a sister across the street or parents who can pull babysitting duty. So a lot of these young people, they’re kind of on their own.

Carol D’Auria: On their own, in a beautiful place. But there’s a lot going on. So this means it’s a good place to visit. But living there sounds like it could be tough.

David Martin: Okay, so now we’re getting into the heart of the story, and here’s the story with all that Summit has to offer. They need a workforce. They need a permanent workforce. That means they need people and they want the people to stay. I mean, think about this. Let’s just imagine for a moment, you have a vacation home, you want to build a relationship with the folks that manage your house, that take care of your yard or babysit your kids.

Carol D’Auria: Right. You really want to know that you can trust them. You have somebody coming in and out of your home. It’s usually a person who’s most prized possession. And, you know, you might be away for a while, right?

David Martin: Especially if you’re away for a while. You want to make sure that you can make a call and talk to that person and have confidence that everything’s going to be okay. But first, a word from our sponsor. We’re going to hear from NACo. That’s the National Association of Counties.

The Good Government Show welcomes a new sponsor for season two, and that’s NACo. And that’s the National Association of Counties. Carol, did you know that county government affects more people than any other form of government?

Carol D’Auria: Well, I do now. Funny you would think city or the federal government is bigger.

David Martin: Well, right, but. But it’s not. You’d think about this. Roads, highways, hospitals, schools, recycling, law enforcement, water, sewers: in most of the country, those services are maintained by the county. That’s county government.

Carol D’Auria: And we want to see good county government. And that’s where Naco comes in.

David Martin: Exactly. They’re a nationwide organization that represents all 3,069 counties across the U.S..

Carol D’Auria: Now, that’s a lot of support and more importantly, brain power.

David Martin: Exactly. And they have many organizations and committees and they do things like share best practices and they work together on national issues.

Carol D’Auria: And they are urban, suburban and rural counties that have different challenges. But they can still work together.

David Martin: Yes, they all work together. So NACo helps county government work better. And as we see in this and other episodes, when county government works well, that’s just good government.

Carol D’Auria: So thanks, NACo, for providing us with great stories and helping support good government.

David Martin: And thanks NACO for supporting the good government. And remember, citizens, don’t forget to vote.

Welcome back to the Good Government Show. Now I’m going to introduce you to Catherine Scharf. She’s the program director of Early Childhood Options in Summit County in Colorado. She left her home in New Hampshire to go see the Rocky.

Carol D’Auria: That’s ironic. New Hampshire has great skiing.

David Martin: I’m sure it’s great skiing. People will tell you the rocky skiing is just as.

Carol D’Auria: Powerful as snow.

David Martin: Right. But she left her home in New Hampshire and she said to her mom, I’ll be back, don’t worry.

Carol D’Auria: I’m like this story.

David Martin: That was 15 years ago. She got married and she stayed and her husband was his own penny business. And they have now an almost eight year old. But she’s exactly the type of person the pre-K program was made for back when she needed pre-K. So I’m and have her talk about the challenges she faced.

Catherine Shaaf: Because of our world class ski resorts. We also have a world class mountain homes and timeshares and condos here and then making it hard for the I. I refer to them as the heartbeat of our community, our nurses, our firefighters, our teachers, our housekeepers, our property managers that keep our community running, struggle to find affordable housing because, you know, the tourists just kind of raise that cost of housing and all other expenses that come along with it.

And the rising costs everywhere. It means expensive child care no matter how you cut it.

David Martin: Right. And that’s what Catherine explained to me.

Catherine Shaaf: A majority of a dual income earners, wages are spent on their housing and then also in child care because both parents are working. I believe our latest statistic just came out that 73% of our families that utilize 0 to 5 child care are dual income earners. And I say that because it’s both parents are working or if they’re single parent, they’re also working full time and then that that means that they need to utilize childcare full time.

And childcare expense in our community is about 1500 dollars a month for full time care.

Carol D’Auria: Well, that is a big monthly bill. So how did this come about?

David Martin: So two things are going on. First, in the city of Breckenridge, that’s the largest city in summit. They already had a model for a free pre-K program, but it was county commissioners and Advisory Group and Lucinda Byrnes, and she’s the executive director of Childhood Options for Summit. They all recognize that childcare was the biggest issue for a lot of the local people, so they set out to create a program that would support those folks that really are the backbone of Summit.

Carol D’Auria: That’s true. You know, when you talk about people who live there as opposed to the visitors, the people who live there, that’s the backbone, the structure, the visitors come and go. And as I as a mother, I can tell you, pre-K is so important.

David Martin: Right. And listen and I talked about that.

Lucinda Burns: pre-K important for a couple of reasons. And particularly the way we delivered pre-K in our community. We delivered pre-K in our school district, preschool programs, but also in our community child care centers. So that families had access to wraparound child care so they could actually go to work. So it’s important for three reasons helps families get to work.

It ensures that children enter kindergarten ready to succeed. Because we put a lot of we invested a lot of time and funding into making sure that those programs are high quality for children. And then the third one is it helps us with early identification of children who might have some special learning needs or health needs so we can get on top of that quickly.

And all of that produces a good return on investment for taxpayers.

Carol D’Auria: On the taxes.

David Martin: Taxes, how.

Carol D’Auria: Did that go down?

David Martin: Well, actually went very well. The local voters well, there were other folks that needed the service, so they voted that way. The vacation home owners, they agreed that having a stable workforce was important. And one of the draws that keeps people to stay there. So while there are always folks who say no to any new taxes, for the most part there was fairly strong support for this all around.

Carol D’Auria: I see you’re saying it was local funding mostly.

David Martin: So it comes from a local mill levy. And what that basically is, is a property tax. The levy raises about 2.5 million a year. And the majority of that money goes to education. So there’s also state and federal dollars that flow into the summer program. It basically. Yes, the biggest chunk came from locals.

Carol D’Auria: Well, that’s good news. Support for taxes.

David Martin: No, it’s not support for taxes. It’s support for childcare. It’s support for families and support for a stronger community.

Carol D’Auria: Okay. Strong community is important. How does the program work, though?

David Martin: So the summit pre-K currently serves about 225 kids, but they combine with other programs for preschool education and child care. They reach about 80% of all summit preschool age kids.

Carol D’Auria: That’s a pretty impressive number. So do the parents have to pay anything?

David Martin: Well, it is an impressive number. So here’s how it works. Basically what happens is parents apply to the program. Mostly it’s word of mouth. That’s how they get the word out. But they do promote it a little bit. But once they apply, they’re interviewed, they provide income documentation, and then there’s a selection process. The parents pay a percentage of what they can afford based on their income.

Full payments for pre-K is around 1400 dollars a month. But prior to that pre-K program, parents were footing about 80% of the costs. Now they’re only paying about 20%.

Carol D’Auria: Well, that is a big decline, 20% of 1400. It’s about $280, you know. Wow. I can tell you as a working mom, that would be such a big help. When I was paying for childcare, the money seemed like it was just slipping through my fingers. I couldn’t hold on to it.

David Martin: That’s. I guess that’s why you’re so funny.

Carol D’Auria: Yeah, absolutely.

David Martin: So I’m going to have you listen to Catherine because she talks about that.

Catherine Shaaf: Well, you know, these parents are super grateful of, you know, receiving these tuition credits on behalf of their children. They’ve seen growth in that in that last year of childcare. If they’ve been in childcare since infancy, they appreciate, you know, that preparedness that they have for kindergarten. They have higher confidence for their children being successful in those K through 12 years.

I’ve also heard you know, that they’ve been able to maybe pay off a credit card or pay off old student loans that they’ve had. Maybe someone even gets to save a little bit of money so they can go on their first family vacation. I mean, any of those, I think, are positive influence in our community and keeping people happy and thriving here in Summit.

Carol D’Auria: All of this sounds like it’s going really well. Is there support there for like the entire program?

David Martin: It is going really well. And here’s the thing. The kids are better prepared for kindergarten and parents. They have a smaller child care bill.

Carol D’Auria: That’s a big deal.

David Martin: Yes, it is. And I want to bring back Commissioner Elizabeth Lawrence. She is really the driving force behind keeping this program moving forward because for her, it really is personal.

Elizabeth Lawrence: I happen to be the very first recipient of the tuition assistance program. My daughter was in Breckenridge in 2007 when they began that program. And I vowed then, well, this is allowing us to stay in this community, and I will do whatever I can to give back in that way and make sure that other kids have that same opportunity.

And it’s just gone on since then.

Carol D’Auria: Well, that is a strong advocate from the county commissioner’s office right at the top.

David Martin: It is. And let me just tell you something about Elizabeth. She may be small, but this woman is a fireball. And this.

Carol D’Auria: Is silly.

David Martin: Yeah, she is.

Carol D’Auria: That’s what it takes.

David Martin: Exactly. And the parents have kids in pre-K. They’re so happy it’s really made a difference. So I want to introduce you to some parents. Austin Dean has lived in Breckenridge for 14 years. She met her husband there about 12 years ago. And they have two boys. By the way, the morning I talked to her, she was up at 6 a.m. for a quick ski, right?

David Martin: Yep. Yep.

Carol D’Auria: I can’t imagine that. Go ahead.

David Martin: Get it. Well, that’s what you do with you live there. And but she started as a snowboarder and here’s a here’s something funny. She said her husband wouldn’t marry her until she became a skier. Yep. So she skis these people are serious about their skiing out there and so either.

Carol D’Auria: That or is he is one fantastic guy.

David Martin: I’m sure it’s both but she skis in the winter and in the summer she mountain bike so she’s taking full use of the rock. Yeah.

Carol D’Auria: She really wanted to stay.

David Martin: Yes she did. And she said once they got married, they realized they really did want to stay and they wanted to raise their kids there. And the pre-K program really has changed their life for sure.

Austyn Dineen: So in in Breckenridge and a lot of, you know, high cost of living destinations across the globe, those child care costs have to mimic the cost of living. Right? They need to pay staff. They need to be able to maintain their budgets and our high cost of childcare, it’s $20,000 and it’s a pretty expensive place to live. And so that summer pre-K or the summer pre-K program has allowed our family, like I said, to live here, but also to, you know, open a business, participate in the community and really, how do I say it live?

Right, just live.

David Martin: And she really credits local government with a foresight to see that something needed to change.

Austyn Dineen: And it’s really our local leaders that really came together and realized, you know, if we don’t do something, this subset of our community is gone, or at least their cost burden. And what kind of life is that? So it was kind of a shock when I honestly when originally passed and now it’s it’s it takes that burden off of the family shoulders.

So it’s I mean, it’s nothing short of incredible from a community standpoint.

David Martin: Virginia Hammer came to summit from Alabama 14 years ago. Another person that moved to Summit from somewhere else. She and her husband have a four year old son. She’s seen other families leave because of the high costs and that includes the high cost of childcare.

Virginia Hammock: Honestly, this place has such a high cost of living. Even though my husband and I are self employed, it became almost impossible to be able to afford daycare. That being said, again, because of the high cost of living, neither of us could afford not to work. So, you know, after paying a high lump sum of money for daycare for almost four years, we were ecstatic to receive this credit that helped us, you know, keep our jobs, our livelihoods, and also keep our son in school getting a really great education in the pre-K program.

Carol D’Auria: This really does allow them to stay when a program works so well.

David Martin: So listen to what Virginia has to say about that.

Virginia Hammock: 90% of our daycare is paid for. So we were only required to pay for 10%. But it means freedom. It means the ability to stay in the community where we have learned and grown as a family, it means being able to keep our small businesses going here in Summit County and a place where, you know, my business in particular really benefits the locals and the local economy here.

But yeah, it allows for a lot of freedom for us to stay and live where we want to be.

Carol D’Auria: Such a huge help for families. But what about what the kids are getting in school? I mean, there is a pre-K, there’s a daycare. Are they getting a good quality education?

David Martin: They are. And Virginia says she’s seen some really big changes in her own kid.

Virginia Hammock: So he gets, you know, daily interactions with other children his age. And they’re teaching him lots of valuable social, emotional skills. I’m blown away constantly about how curious he is, about learning, learning how to read, learning, wanting to write his letters. And I just don’t think he would ever have achieved that had he not been in a pre-K program.

They listen to music. He’s really interested in learning how to play an instrument. He’s learning about gardening. I mean, just the plethora of knowledge and love that he gets from his teachers and his school is just it’s indescribable how valuable it is to myself and my son.

Carol D’Auria: You know, these parents really have some great stories. And this program really does make a difference, I suppose. You know, I wish I had quality education, quality pre-K education for my kids once my parents could no longer babysit. And it was less than stellar what I had, but it was what was in the neighborhood.

David Martin: See, what you needed to do is you need to pack everything up in here.

Carol D’Auria: And go to a.

David Martin: Station right out of Ragged Ridge. If you go with Skiba, I’m sure there’s a radio station there somewhere.

Carol D’Auria: But can you imagine my family hollering from New York?

David Martin: I’m sure there’s a morning shift somewhere out there. Oh, yeah, that needs a news reporter. Anyway, here’s another benefit. When you have kids in school early, it also helps identify kids that might have special needs. So they get that special attention sooner and it helps them succeed later.

Carol D’Auria: Yeah, that is really so important to have an extra pair of eyes looking at your child because, you know, sometimes they see things that a parent doesn’t see because you see kids all the time. You don’t pick up those subtle differences. So that’s really great.

David Martin: That’s a good point. So, listen, when we come back, we’re going to need more pre-K parents right after this break.

Carol D’Auria: The Good Government Show is sponsored by Liquid.

David Martin: So here’s the thing about Liquid. They do their homework. So, Carol, I’m going to give you a fun fact. A recent study found that over 80% of retail shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase. Do you do that?

Carol D’Auria: Yeah, I like to know what I’m buying, but if you’re a business, it takes more time than researching for a new TV, say.

David Martin: Yeah. And for a business, you really have to do your research and you really have to evaluate who you’re working with and make sure the company are about to partner with is a good fit.

Carol D’Auria: And that makes sense. So you want to stand out to other companies that are checking out your company.

David Martin: And that’s where Liquid comes in. They can help your business create a digital presence with impact so you can be impressive to new businesses and, you know, keep your customers.

Carol D’Auria: And it’s not just about a website. See how much I learned about Liquid since the first season?

David Martin: Well, of course, well, Liquid our partners, we want to know everything about them. And what they can do is they can guide you to where to advertise and they can make sure your social media is relevant. And that it engages your customers and they make sure your digital story answers your potential customers’ questions before they even ask them.

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Carol D’Auria: And you will love Liquid as much as we do.

David Martin: Because we love Liquid.

We want to welcome back as a sponsor to the Good Government Show, Kutztown University of Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

Carol D’Auria: And you want to talk about their rugby team?

David Martin: Well, they do have a good rugby team that just won a national tournament. And what I did was I called a friend, his daughter played at Kutztown, she played on the rugby team and asked him what did he like best about Kutztown?

Carol D’Auria: You mean besides the rugby team?

David Martin: Yeah, besides the team, obviously the team first. But he responded immediately and said something I didn’t know. His favorite thing is the chicken tower or it’s also called the Angry Chicken.

Carol D’Auria: What? I hesitate to ask. The Angry Chicken?

David Martin: Well, it’s such a landmark that it’s actually the school’s logo. It’s a clock tower. And apparently when you look from a special angle, the clock looks a little bit like a chicken with an open beak. So it’s the angry chicken.

Carol D’Auria: Okay, then. Well, let’s talk about the other stuff like that their degree program in music business is now nationally accredited. They offer undergraduate certificates in cybersecurity and technical writing.

David Martin: So is this what we do? Is this technical writing?

Carol D’Auria: Oh, no, no, no. Take his class and maybe get better at writing.

David Martin: Oh, come on. That’s not fair. You know what? You would benefit from the new graduate certificate program and be a school social worker. Maybe you’d be nicer.

Carol D’Auria: All right, well, the point is, Kutztown is a forward-looking university. They also offer Pell Promise scholarships. And for students to qualify, student tuitions and fees are all covered.

David Martin: And that’s just some of why we like Kutztown and are happy to be associated with this university. Oh, my friend thought it was really cool that sometimes the locals stay right here in a horse and buggy. So check out Kutztown University. That’s Kutztown University and cheer on the rugby team.

Carol D’Auria: Of course.

David Martin: Yes, please.

Carol D’Auria: So we’re in Summit County, Colorado, where parents are getting help with their preschool kids. You have more parents?

David Martin: Do I have more parents? I have more skiers and more bikers and more people love. Yes. Good. All right. So let’s meet a busy mother who’s also a nurse.

Kris McKernan: My name is Chris will be back. I am a mom to 3/1 grader, a bricklayer and a two year old. And we have our pre care enrolled in the SDK program where he receives tuition, room tuition funding, reimbursement for us for the care that he gets at a licensed facility and it’s an awesome program and honestly, we wouldn’t be able to afford the awesome care that he’s getting without it.

David Martin: That was Chris. She’s a nurse and her husband’s a firefighter and they work shifts, so they had their first kid and they left Breckenridge because they were both finishing up school and he needed that support. But when then their second kid and they graduated, they came back because this is where they wanted to live. They both work. Like I said, they work shifts, but it’s tough.

Kris McKernan: By having him in preschool, we’ve been able to spend money on other things like food. Like you said, the county is the most expensive place to live and we do not have salaries that support that. So we are able to meet basic life necessities on the fact that we don’t have to pay that to monthly tuition for him to go to pre-K and, you know, know that he’s in a safe place.
When I’m coming off my shifts, I’m sleeping because I’m going back in that night. So knowing that he is in a safe place where he’s learning and growing and he just he loves that. It’s just it makes a world of difference.

Carol D’Auria: So this program really changed lives, didn’t it?

David Martin: Definitely. It has allowed families to stay and it helps create a community. It’s a community of people where other people want to return for vacation or to have their second home. It’s a place where they feel like they’re at home because of the people.

Carol D’Auria: That’s so that’s so great. But that’s just one area. Is this growing so other people can take advantage of this kind of thing?

David Martin: Yes, it’s growing and they’re growing as fast as they can. So what they have are these preschools. They have these educational centers throughout the county. They want to add more. They want to put some in more locations where there isn’t a school currently and they want to hire more teachers always a challenge, but if they had more teachers, they’d have more space for more kids.

Carol D’Auria: In Summit County. Sounds like a role model for another county.

Elizabeth Lawrence: I think we’re a model for resort communities. Certainly that says we care about having kids in our community. It is a priority and value to us and I think that’s important. And do I think elsewhere in the country should invest in preschool? Absolutely.

Carol D’Auria: Well, she answered my question.

David Martin: You’re good.

Carol D’Auria: I’m all good.

David Martin: You would you and Elizabeth are on the same page.

Carol D’Auria: You know what, David? What? This program is good and it shows how other counties, how it can be done.

David Martin: It is. And next year, Colorado is going to have a ten hour a week universal pre-K program. So someone’s already way ahead of what the state’s offering. But that’s going to give them some more funding. So that’s going to allow someone to expand their program with all those state dollars.

Carol D’Auria: Now, so who gets the last word on this one?

David Martin: Well, I’m going back to one of my parents, Virginia. She really explains why the pre-K program makes Summit County a special place.

Virginia Hammock: I think if you really want a community to, like, grow and flourish and be a beautiful place, you have to have people who live here for a long time and really do love and appreciate it. But that same sentiment goes for you have to have a local government that’s willing to help the people out who do live here.

So I really do think the flavor and the attitude of the people and everything would change if you didn’t have people who could afford to stay here long term, you wouldn’t be able to walk down downtown Breckenridge and get a smiley reception from pretty much anyone in any business. There would be a lot of people who are just kind of making it work, living under horrid conditions and then moving on for the next year.

I think most people recognize that in their home town that they stay for a reason. And the reason is the community, not because of the amenities that the town offers.

Carol D’Auria: Well, she really summed it up nicely.

David Martin: Yeah. There you go. Good government in Summit County, Colorado.

Carol D’Auria: That is good government all around. They saw a need. They realized how important it was in maintaining the community and they came up with a way to afford it.

David Martin: Well, think about it. You know, you go to a vacation spot, you know, and you go to your favorite restaurant. And, you know, the bartender from last year remembers your name or the waitress remembers your drink order, you know, stuff like that. People love that, right? That matters. And when you, you know, you can you can be home and you can call up your your house manager and go, hey, can you, you know, take the trash cans out or can you remember to prune the tree?

And, you know, you’ve got people there.

Carol D’Auria: For some linguine in the pot.

David Martin: You can do that, too. So you just can’t take the time, you know? So having a community like that really matters. And that’s what Summit recognized. So so listen, they got support from all the people who value Summit County and not just as a tourist destination, but it’s really a place that people call home, even if it’s their second home.

And it’s both for those folks who are there year round, but also for those other people who are flying in just on the weekends or just for the winter or just for the summer. It makes it home they want to come back to.

Carol D’Auria: And those second homes, they help really keep the economy running. They’re buying from the local shops. They hire the local landscapers, a local house managers eating in those local restaurants.

David Martin: Right. See, it’s all interconnected.

Carol D’Auria: Absolutely. So I have a question. There is. Yes. Does Spike rent out his house?

David Martin: Oh, well, are you thinking about a little trip to summer?

Carol D’Auria: This is very tempting. It sounds so.

David Martin: Nice. Are you going to take up skiing?

Carol D’Auria: Well, you know, I used to ski.

David Martin: You did?

Carol D’Auria: I did. I did.

David Martin: When you were you say you were a skier.

Carol D’Auria: I never got to the diamond. You know, that’s like the hardest mountain, but I could do intermediates.

David Martin: All right, well, that’s good. All right.

Carol D’Auria: Well, it was a long time ago.

David Martin: We can. We can hook you up with Spike and you can go skiing or listen, how about going this summer? You can take a little mountain biking they.

Carol D’Auria: Like to do. And rafting and fishing. Yeah, yeah. I actually like.

David Martin: To fish this.

Carol D’Auria: Year. I get to do the worm on the hook.

David Martin: Well, this is probably more fly fishing.

Carol D’Auria: Okay, well, I never did that.

David Martin: Ten and two. Right. Okay. Well, you know what? You are to Suffolk County, hook up with a fly fishing guide and boom, you’re a fly fisherman. I’ll be in. All right, so listen, go to the good government. Show, Check out our website. We have a link to a rental right there, other links or other stuff we’ve seen.

And you can meet Elizabeth. There’s a picture.

Carol D’Auria: Of what it is.

David Martin: We met up when we were out and when I was out in Colorado, I met up with Elizabeth. We talked. So that’s our show. Thanks for listening. Good government show. I’m Dave Martin.

Carol D’Auria: And I’m Carol Duryea.

David Martin: Thanks for listening to how one resort community changed the lives of its residents all through a good government program. We’ll see you next time on the good government show.

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The Good Government Show is produced by Valley Park Productions. Jim Ludlow, David Martin and David Snyder are the executive producers. Jason Stershic is our producer and editor. Some transcriptions were done by Kofi Ajeasi Ampah. Our hosts are me, David Martin and Carol D’Auria. Join us again for the Good Government Show, wherever you listen to podcasts.