MEEKER | The November ballot includes two provisions relating to education. In last week’s article, we explained our resolution supporting Ballot Issue 4A. That Issue would provide funds for a new Meeker High School and bus garage. In this article we explain the provisions in the second ballot question, Amendment 73, offer arguments for and against, and justify our resolution in support.
Amendment 73 is a state-wide tax proposal to restore appropriate state funding to school districts.
Amendment 73 promises increased state funding for school districts throughout Colorado. For years now, the Colorado Legislature has withdrawn state funds from the schools through the so-called “negative factor” (now known as “budget stabilization”). Funds which, by our state constitution should have gone to the schools have instead been allocated to the general budget. Effectively, the state owes its schools more than $6 billion. As a result, Colorado teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation relative to their peers, and Colorado ranks in the bottom third in per-pupil funding (toward the very bottom in some analyses). Amendment 73 guarantees more appropriate levels of education funding across the state. It raises revenue by increasing state income taxes on the wealthiest individual brackets (above federal taxable income of $150,000) and on certain corporations. Please refer to particulars of the amendment available on the Amendment 73 web site.
As we reported in these pages two years ago, the Meeker School Board is drawing from budget reserves in order to maintain instructional programs and staff. We cannot continue deficit spending indefinitely. According to forecasts offered by the Colorado Department of Education, funds provided by Amendment 73 (estimated $1.2 million annually for the Meeker School District) would potentially balance our district budget and would enable increased staffing and new programs in our schools.
Funds from Amendment 73 would be used to hire needed staff and to implement new education programs in the Meeker School District.
As with any such measure, people raise reasonable arguments against. Is it fair to raise taxes only on a certain segment of the society? Are there better ways to fund education? Are we certain the funds will be reserved strictly for education? Given the current projections and assurances, the Meeker School Board believe funds made available by Amendment 73 will help to satisfy immediate needs including hiring two additional teachers at the high school, where class sizes are becoming unmanageable, and initiation of a comprehensive technology program, to provide our students with the conceptual and hands-on skills they need to succeed in today’s economy. Moreover, those additional funds may obviate the necessity for the District to ask for a mill levy increase down the road.
We are extraordinarily proud of our students and staff. For three years in a row, the Meeker School District has been recognized as Accredited with Distinction, placing us in the top tier among schools around the state. There are many other measures of success, and we know we can make further improvements. We strive to give every child the opportunity to learn to their full potential. We believe that investment in our children’s education is the very best investment a community can make, and it is the investment with the greatest return.
Full texts of our resolutions in support of Ballot Issue 4A and Amendment 73 are available on the District web site. Thank you for your careful consideration of these matters.
By Meeker Board of Education | Special to the Herald Times
Laurie Whiteman Simonsen