Election: School districts weigh in on Amendment 66

Tammy Kranz and Ashley Reimers
Posted

Colorado voters are being asked to overhaul how public schools are funded by raising taxes, change how the state distributes funding and requiring that a fixed percentage of revenue from certain state taxes be annually set aside for schools.

The impact on taxpayers if Amendment 66 passes will depend on their incomes. According to the Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly, under the new structure, an estimated 68 percent of households in Colorado will see their individual income taxes increased by 8 percent, while the remaining 32 percent will see greater increases.

A household with $50,000 gross income would pay $97 annually for an 8 percent increase. A household with a $100,000 gross income would also see an 8 percent increase, while paying $243 more.

If Amendment 66 passes, the Adams 12 Five Star School District would receive about $37.6 million more in total program and teacher leadership investment funding, based on an estimate from the district’s Legislative Council. This amounts to about $613 more per pupil. Special education funding would also increase by about $4.431 million per year. Both funding increases would go in to affect starting in the 2015-2016 school year.

“These additional funds would allow us to improve the depth and breadth of our gifted and talented programming, support more one-on-one and small group interventions with our students who are below grade level,” said Superintendent Chris Gdowski. “The funding would also enhance our ability to integrate technology into learning, and provide more full-day kindergarten and preschool opportunities where there is space available.”

Mapleton Public Schools anticipates receiving an estimated $11 million in additional dollars if Amendment 66 passes.

“It’s more money than our local community could ever raise on its own,” said Mapleton Superintendent Charlotte Ciancio. “For our community, the average impact is estimated to be less than 40 cents a day. For that 40 cents, it’s hard to believe that our return on investment could be almost $12 million.”

The district would use that money to extend learning time for students, provide greater access to enriching opportunities (like field trips, outdoor education, museums and music) serve more preschoolers to prepare them to enter kindergarten, purchase textbooks and technology and address segments of the population (like special education, English as a second language and gifted and talented) more appropriately, Ciancio said.

For Adams County School District 50 if Amendment 66 passes, an additional $1,323 would go toward each student, amounting to roughly $13 million in additional funding. District 50 voters will be asked not only to increase a statewide tax, but also a local tax increase in a districtwide mill levy override question on the November ballot.

“While Amendment 66 would allow us to expand educational opportunities for our students over the long term, our primary focus right now is on maintaining the momentum we have created in the district and ensuring that our existing services continue,” said Superintendent Pam Swanson. “The mill levy override allows the Westminster community to control its destiny.”

If passed, Amendment 66 would generate $17.5 million to School District 27J, which has lost nearly $66 million in state funding since 2009-10 due to budget recessions and the implementation of a budget negative factor, reported Superintendent Chris Fiedler.

“As a statewide income tax increase, our entire state would share the responsibility for increased education funding,” Fiedler said. “It would be an investment in our local community and our state that will pay dividends for a lifetime.”

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