At a special meeting of the Board of Education on 8.23.18, the Board took actions for the ballot in November. I’d like to take a moment to explain how Jeffco would use resources from a statewide …
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OpEd - Why I will be voting against A73 and the Jeffco mill and bond
At a special meeting of the Board of Education on 8.23.18, the Board took actions for the ballot in November. I’d like to take a moment to explain how Jeffco would use resources from a statewide effort for education funding called Amendment 73, and what you can expect from two local ballot efforts – a mill levy override and a bond. At the state level, Amendment 73 is a proposed change to the Colorado Constitution that would generate $1.6 billion in new ongoing revenue for PreK-12 education. It is funded through an income tax on filers earning more than $150,000 annually and C-corporations. It also locks in and sets state residential property rates at 7 percent and state commercial property tax assessment rates at 24 percent, which is a -.2 percent and -5 percent reduction respectively compared to current levels for education.
For Jeffco Public Schools, this would mean about $1,609 per student in additional revenue.
Our district would use these funds in the following ways (with the percentages that were approved by the Board of Education in a resolution):
• attract & retain quality teachers and staff (50 percent),
• address class-size and staffing shortages (15 percent),
• add mental health and counseling supports to improve school safety (10 percent),
• expand early childhood education in district programs (10 percent),
• expand career/technical and STEM education options (7.5 percent),
• and purchase classroom learning materials and technology (7.5 percent).
• Charter schools would get their proportionate share of these funds.
• Amendment 73 has made the ballot for this fall and there are pro and con statements available on it. It will need 55 percent voter approval to pass.
The Board of Education also approved a local mill levy override for the ballot. The request is for $33 million dollars annually, adjusting for inflation. This would be generated through a property tax, which would be around $2.10 per month, per $100,000 of residential value.
In terms of how we would use mill levy dollars (with percentages approved by the Board):
• increase our competitiveness with other districts for quality teachers and staff (50 percent),
• improve school safety and security through additional mental health, counseling, and school security (20 percent),
• expand career/technical and STEM options (10 percent),
• expand full day early childhood education (10 percent),
• and purchase classroom learning materials and technology (10 percent),
• charter schools would get their proportionate share.
There are also accountability elements built into this mill levy, writing into the ballot language that none of these resources can be used for senior district administration, that an expert citizen oversight committee will review the uses of these funds, and that they are subject to an annual external audit. The Board also put a $567 million bond program on the ballot. Bond funds are used for construction purposes and cannot be used for administration or staff. Bonds are repaid through a property tax increase, which in this case would be around $1.81 per month, per $100,000 of residential value.
Jeffco would use 60 percent of these funds to bring all schools in the district up to a common standard of quality in terms of instructional space and building safety and security. We would also expand and add career/technical and STEM education facilities and early childhood education options.
We would use 20 percent of these funds to reinvest in established parts of Jeffco, keeping those communities and schools attractive places for families and kids. We also have growth areas and would spend 10 percent of the funds to accommodate new schools and additions where needed. Charter schools would be passed through their proportionate share, 10 percent.
Bond funds would also be monitored by a separate blue-ribbon oversight committee and be subject to an annual external audit. In an effort to reinvest dollars into our local economy, we will have a preference for local firms and contractors in doing this work, which we expect will take five years to complete.
Please take the time to become informed on these important educational funding decisions. You can learn more at the Jeffco Public Schools website, www.jeffcopublicschools.org.
As always, our voters will make the final decision at the polls.
Jason Glass is the superintendent for Jefferson County Public Schools
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