Let's be more precise -- Jeffco schools know there is a recession going on for THEM -- they don't seem to know (or care) that there are harder economic times going on for the taxpayers.
I would absolutely oppose any kind of tax increase by the Jefferson County school district in 2008. There is serious price inflation going on that impacts the vast majority of people living in Jefferson County. Gasoline is nearly $4.00 a gallon now and is not expected to decline much ... perhaps ever again; groceries cost more every week; home values are declining putting some families in difficult equity situations; jobs are getting scarcer; college tuitions are going up and health care premiums are going up.
And guess what? Every household in Jefferson County has to deal with higher costs and stagnant income. ... Jeffco schools are just going to have to do the same.
Besides, my personal experience with the Jeffco schools in recent years has left me with very little reason to provide them with more funds. As I have stated on this web site before, I have mostly praise for the teachers -- they do the best they can under the oppressive burden of federal, state and local administrative red tape and bureaucracy. The Jeffco school board and administrators have been way too compliant with the CSAP regimen and they have seemed to fully embrace the paranoia of "zero tolerance" and silly political correctness.
Until I see some genuine reform and some courage to do things differently, I would not support a call to give more money to the school board and administrators to spend on consultants, bond sellers and building contractors.
Nope -- no more money for you now Jeffco schools.
With fuel prices, health care costs and employee compensation packages increasing, Superintendent Cindy Stevenson says the district has to go the ballot again just four years after voters passed the largest school bond issue in Colorado history.
"If the quality of education in JeffCo declines due to funding, we have 85,000 children who will pay a price," said Dr. Stevenson, superintendent of Jefferson County Schools, the largest district in the state.
Stevenson says the district is considering two ballot issues. One is a bond between $323 million and $350 million to rebuild and repair eight high schools, four middle schools, and 70 elementary schools. The superintendent says a big focus will be to upgrade facilities for 21st century instruction.
"Part of the bond issue is increasing technology in thousands of our classrooms," said Stevenson.
The money may also be used to build two new schools in fast-growing areas of Lakewood and Arvada.
"We're trying to be proactive, rather than reactive. We want to keep our buildings repaired," said Stevenson. "We want our neighborhoods to have good housing values."
She says if passed, a $350 million bond issue would increase the property taxes of homeowners because the district has paid off past debt. But, it would prevent property taxes from going down.
The other ballot issue will affect taxes.
Stevenson says JeffCo also needs a mill levy override of between $32 million and $36 million. That would increase property taxes about $108 a year for a $300,000 home. The superintendent says the other alternative is massive budget cuts starting in the 2009-2010 school year.
"So, over three years, we're looking at a potential $32 million worth of reductions," said Stevenson.
She says if cuts are made, a significant number of teachers will be cut and class sizes will increase.
"So, we feel that we have a moral obligation to go to our voters and say, 'Do you want us to begin that reduction cycle or do you want us to sustain our class sizes, our well-trained teachers, current and guaranteed viable curriculum?'" ... MORE