Adams 12 officials have had their hopes resting on two issues — their local $27 million mill levy override and the statewide education funding measure, Amendment 73 — and one pulled through at …
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Adams 12 officials have had their hopes resting on two issues — their local $27 million mill levy override and the statewide education funding measure, Amendment 73 — and one pulled through at the polls Nov. 6.
Local voters approved a mill levy override 54 percent to 46 percent, according to preliminary results Tuesday night. Meanwhile, voters across Colorado were voting down Amendment 73, which would have restructured tax brackets to benefit education.
For local officials, it was a difference between state and local politics.
The size of Colorado's ballot was something the district worked hard to overcome, school board President Kathy Plomer said. Adams 12's override issue was near the bottom of the ballot, on the second page, and behind statewide issues, like Amendment 73, two transportation issues and other requests for tax money.
The district responded going door-to-door in the neighborhoods surrounding their schools, Plomer said.
“Ours has been a grassroots campaign and we really tried to reach out to parents, teachers and the whole community with the message to vote all the way down the ballot,” Plomer said. “The most important things that will affect their daily lives are the ones near the bottom, where we are.”
The local mill levy override will generate $27 million for the Five Star District. The property tax impact would be roughly 10.5 mills., depending on state valuation. That amounts to a $280 annual property tax increase on properties valued at $360,000.
The statewide Amendment 73 would generate $60 million for the district. The funding stems from income tax on filers making more than $150,000 annually and from “C” corporations.
But the district's reason for supporting both measures and seeking more money goes back more than a year to its new five-year master plan called “ELEVATE”.
“We started a year in advance, engaging the community in the ELEVATE process,” Plomer said. “We talked about priorities, what we wanted to see for kids and it really got the conversation going well before there ever was a question on the ballot.”
The district kicked off work on the ELEVATE plan in fall of 2017 with the goal of continuing the district's recent academic successes. Test scores in 2016 had improved and voters had just approved a $350 million bond for maintenance and improvements.
School officials hosted several meetings with parents, faculty and neighbors of Adams 12 schools, asking them what the schools have done that worked well.
The new plan identifies six areas that the district wants to focus on and improve over the next five years: preparing students for a digital-based world, tuning learning experiences to individual students, offering more learning options outside of the classroom, ensuring the schools are safe, promoting emotional learning, and making sure teachers and staff are well compensated and well trained.
With Tuesday's result, Plomer said the district's job is the same as it ever was.
“We've had incredible achievements so far,” Plomer said. “We've had the highest academic growth in the metro area, our graduation rates are up and so we'll just continue that work. Our teachers and staff have always done the best with what they have, and I know they'll keep doing that. We just hoped we could give them more to work with.”
The district's last successful mill levy override was in 2008. This was the first time the district has asked voters for a tax increase since 2014 when voters turned down a $15 million mill levy override and a $220 million bond package.
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