Voters to decide school funding
Campaigning for and against ballot issues 3A and 3B has been heard around Jefferson County throughout the summer.
District representatives note Jeffco Public Schools will be able to continue normal operations during the 2012-13 school year, but if the Legislature does not increase funding for the 2013-14 school year, the district will face $45 million in budget cuts.
The ballot issues include a proposed bond and mill-levy — or property tax — increase, that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Jeffco Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Steve Bell said the $39 million mill levy override, known as 3A, would go to the district’s general fund for day-to-day operations, educational programs, maintenance, salaries and supplies. The $99 million bond package, 3B, would 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.
Two opposing groups have emerged in the county. Citizens for Jeffco Schools is in support and Jefferson County Students First is opposed. The majority of Jefferson County Board of Education members are in support of the tax
increases. School board member Laura Boggs is opposed.
Citizens for Jeffco Schools representatives are in support of the bond and mill levy, stating it will strengthen the district. Kelly Johnson, co-chair of the group, said she and other supporters believe strong schools benefit the community by providing an educated workforce, attracting business and maintaining property values.
“Both issues, 3A and 3B, are a very modest request of the taxpayers to provide quite a lot for the schools,” Johnson said. “We wouldn’t be asking if it wasn’t important.”
She said the last time Jefferson County taxpayers were asked to make a contribution to the schools was for the 2004 mill levy.
She said if the measures are passed, 600 jobs in the schools will be maintained, the district will not have to use furlough days, and critical repairs needed in the schools will be made.
The opposing side, represented by Jeffco Students First, says schools do not need extra funding to operate.
Sheila Atwell, chair of the group, said she and supporters believe it is unfair for the district to ask for increased funding from taxpayers, and they should use the funds they already have more efficiently.
“We feel it isn’t necessary,” Atwell said, “the economy being where it is, and that is why school funding has gone down.”
For more information about Citizens for Jeffco Schools visit www.supportjeffcoschools.com, and for Jeffco Students First visit www.jeffcostudentsfirstaction.com.