Letter to the Editor: In support of ballot question 3A

Dear Editor:
I am writing in support of Rangely RE-4’s ballot question 3A. This question is asking for community support for a .9633 mil increase in property taxes to raise $430,000 for Rangely school programs.

There are several reasons why supporting this increase is good for the community. First and foremost is the need to properly educate our children and grandchildren to enable them to become members of a skilled workforce and leaders for their generations. There isn’t much the older generations can do that is more important to our way of life than preparing those who will become the Americans of the future.
Why does RE-4 need these additional funds now? Largely, it is a result of the way schools are financed, with the state holding majority control over how much funding goes into our schools, what will be taught and what the educational goals are.
This shifting of control from local boards to the state began in 1988 as a result of a lawsuit from the poorest districts in the state and took its present form in the school finance act of 1994. In my opinion, this was never a good bill.
The Legislature has often failed to fully fund its obligations under the finance act, as the bill’s measures, interacting with other laws, began transferring the funding base from the local level to the state. It has reduced funding for well-funded districts, like RE-4, while providing moderate funding to help the poorest districts. And as the state financed most of the cost, they took most of the control.
The result, in my opinion, is a lower quality of education statewide.
In 1994, the RE-4 district assessed a mil (1/10th of a percent) levy of 11.104 mils, which provided total funding for its programs. Today, our local levy, set by the state—not us—is 2.116 mils and provides for just 27 percent of the state’s adjusted program funding of $3,889,856.
So passing this override, the only way the state allows schools to increase program funding, will result in only a small increase in taxes for each property owner and far less than our school taxes were in 1994.
How small is that property tax increase? Many homes in Rangely sell for about $250,000 and this would mean an additional $19.17 per year. A similar structure used as a business would pay $69.84 per year. Even the increase for businesses is less than I pay, per month, for TV and Internet.
The funds from this override levy will help the district attract and retain better teachers and provide a better educational setting. I will vote YES on 3A for the levy and I encourage you to do so also.
Ken Parsons
Rangely