Voters approve school funding

Cassie Monroe
Posted

Shouts of joy echoed through Chad's Grill in Lakewood on Tuesday night at the Jeffco schools watch party as 3A and 3B supporters celebrated their victory.

”I'm trying to keep from crying," Superintendent Cindy Stevenson said. "I am just ecstatic."

All those who had campaigned since March on behalf of Citizens for Jeffco Schools, a group working to get residents to vote yes on ballot issues 3A and 3B, sighed with relief when the numbers came showing the measures had passed. The property tax increase will help supplement budget cuts of $45 million for the 2013-14 school year.

Results Tuesday night indicated Question 3A passed 151,829 to 110,189, and Question 3B passed 141,562 to 119,298.

"We'll be able to sustain our traditions of excellence, and support our teachers," Stevenson said.

The bond and mill levy will help make up for the decrease in state education funding per student which dropped from $7,070 in 2009-10 to $6,309 in 2012-13.

The $39 million mill levy override, known as 3A, will be used for day-to-day operations, educational programs, maintenance, salaries and supplies. The $99 million bond package, 3B, will support capital projects, such as buildings, repairs and renovations.

In order to fund the increases, the average homeowner in the county would pay about $14.76 per year per $100,000 in assessed value. For the average Jeffco homeowner, this would be about $3.06 per month.

According to Board of Education President Lesley Dahlkemper, those at the watch party were celebrating keeping instrumental music, outdoor lab education and several other programs on Tuesday night.

"Voters said, 'We support our schools and our kids in Jeffco,'" Dahlkemper said.

The majority of Jefferson County Board of Education members have been in support of the tax increases, and only board member Laura Boggs was opposed.

Citizens for Jeffco Schools co-director, Kelly Johnson, said the group was in support of the bond and mill levy because they will strengthen the district by providing an educated workforce, attracting business and maintaining property values.

Johnson said when she saw 3A and 3B had passed she was so excited and proud of Jeffco residents for the decision they made.

"I have been on pins and needles wondering what kind of Jeffco we're going to have," Johnson said.

She said the ballot measures will help maintain 600 jobs in the schools, the district will not have to use furlough days and critical repairs needed in the schools will be made.

"It's been really, really hard, but what I will say is that Jeffco has people in every neighborhood and every school that are willing to sacrifice to make something like this happen," Johnson said.

The opposing side, represented by Jeffco Students First, says schools do not need extra funding to operate. Representatives of the group of stated it is unfair for the district to ask for increased funding from taxpayers, and they should use the funds they already have more efficiently.

The last time voters passed a bond and mill levy was in 2004. Jeffco residents approved a $38.5 million mill levy increase and a $324 million bond issue, but said no to another request in 2008 for a $32 million mill levy increase and a $350 million bond.

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