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Jeffco Election Questions Take Shape: A Message from Dr. Jason Glass

Jeffco Election Questions Take Shape: A Message from Dr. Jason Glass
Posted on 08/17/2018

Dear Jeffco Families,

Superintendent & Chief Learner Dr. Jason GlassWelcome to a new school year! I hope your children were as excited as my two to get back to learning. I am excited too because we have so many opportunities to support our students and enhance our schools.

This past spring and through the summer, Jeffco Public Schools has been engaged in a community conversation about possibly putting school funding questions on the November ballot. The main issues we face include: the average age of our schools is near 50 years, we have $1.3 billion in facilities needs, surrounding school districts can offer higher wages, and as a state, we rank 47th in per-student funding. Through focus groups, surveys, and scientific data collection, it appears there is support in the community to ask voters for additional funding for Jeffco Public Schools.

The Board of Education will decide whether to put forth ballot issues on August 23. District leadership is proposing the following:

Possible Bond - $567M to address capital improvement needs

  • Every school would benefit – neighborhood, option, charter, and outdoor lab schools
  • 60% of funds would support improvements to classrooms, safety/security, career/technical education, and early childhood education
  • 20% would be reinvested in established schools, including many additions/major renovations
  • 10% would address needs in growth areas
  • 10% would be passed through to charter schools
  • Taxpayer cost: $1.81/month for every $100K of home value

Possible Mill Levy Increase - $33M to supplement annual operations

  • 50% of funds would support our ability to compete with neighboring school districts to hire and retain great teachers and staff at all schools
  • 20% for school safety & security and increased mental health support
  • 10% to expand career/technical education and STEM options for students
  • 10% to improve classroom materials and technology
  • 10% expand full-day early childhood education
  • Taxpayer cost: $2.10/month per $100k home value

I invite you to engage your neighbors, coworkers, and children in this conversation. We also welcome public comment at the August 23 Board of Education meeting.

(Note: Public Comment on August 23 will be heard at 5:00 p.m. Those wishing to speak to the Board may do so at regular business meetings. Public Comment sign-up is available online and on the Public Comment agenda items at 10 a.m. the Monday prior to the regular Thursday meeting and until 3:30 p.m. the day of the meeting.)

My observations so far regarding the need for a bond have lead me to believe that while what happens instructionally is what matters most, most would say an attractive, safe, and fresh school building is essential.

In older parts of Jeffco, reinvestment in our schools can keep places like Arvada, Wheat Ridge, Edgewater, Lakewood, Westminster, Littleton, and Golden great places to raise a family. Strong neighborhood schools can attract and keep families that support local businesses and stable housing prices.

We also have growing areas in northern Arvada and western Lakewood where more houses mean more families and students.

Our mountain communities are also in great need of a significant refresh on their schools because these buildings are aging and mountain conditions can be harsh on facilities.

When it comes to construction, a few key priorities emerged from our community. First, improvements related to safety and security are high on the list. We also heard a strong desire to maintain the community’s schools and quality environments for learning. Another priority was a desire to expand career/technical education options, such as the district's excellent Warren Tech program.

A mill levy override would provide ongoing resources for things like staff compensation or new program offerings for students, and help increase our competitiveness with surrounding districts to attract and keep talent in Jeffco.

At the state level, Amendment 73 will be on the ballot this year. If it were to pass, it would bring some relief to Colorado’s well-known problems around ongoing funds that schools use to pay teachers and provide services to kids and families.

Amendment 73 would create a new and ongoing $1.6 billion for Colorado’s schools through a progressive income tax on those making over $150,000 annually and corporations. It would actually reduce residential and commercial property taxes in the state. Approximately 92% of Colorado residents would pay nothing if Amendment 73 passed, but it is a tax increase on wealthy filers and corporations.

For Jeffco, this would mean around $134 million annually in revenues (approximately $1,609 per student), which we could use to attract and retain quality teachers and staff, add mental health and counseling supports, and expand career-technical education courses. These funds would bring Colorado (and Jeffco) near, though not quite at, the national average in school funding.

There is a lot to consider. These proposals, were they to pass, would bring a sea of opportunity to public education in Jeffco, please take the time to “do your homework” and decide whether to invest for the benefit of current and future students that will soon lead our communities.

Sincerely,
Dr. Jason Glass, Superintendent & Chief Learner

Jeffco students, parents, families, staff, and community members may engage with Dr. Glass via Facebook, Twitter @COJasonGlass, and through his blog, advancejeffco.blog.

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