Colorado's Jefferson County School District is asking the taxpayers for more money -- even as the recession deepens. Here is my position on Measures 3A and 3B:
One of the ways we make governmental institutions accountable to us in a democratic republic is to say 'yea' or 'nay' when they come to us for funding. Indeed, in the case of the upcoming Jeffco schools tax increase measures, the 'power of the purse' exercised through the vote is probably more potent than the election of school board members.
Jeffco voters should vote no on the permanent mill levy tax increase, 3A; and the extension of a previous tax increase for bonding authority, 3B.
Until genuine educational and administrative reform is instituted in the Jefferson County School District, we should not give them any more of our money to spend. Here are some of my bill of particulars arguing for a rejection of the two tax measures:* 84,000 students in a county population of 530,000 represented by only five elected school board members: that's one accountable official for 106,000 people. How can a single school board member be adequately answerable with that kind of imbalance. We should have an elected school board of at least seven or nine members.With the onset of recession, higher energy costs and inflation, the Jeffco school district should tighten-up their spending just like everyone else in the county is going to have to do -- this is not the time for government to be raising taxes on Jeffco residents.
* The current school calendar is not student or parent friendly. Students are starting too early in August and have numerous days off and breaks during the school year that interrupt learning and causes many parents to pay for otherwise unnecessary day care.
* Testing is taking over teaching time, the CSAP takes days and days over weeks and weeks. The Jeffco school administration has not vigorously fought state and federal bureaucrats to scale back this testing to realistic levels -- so teachers can have more time to actually teach.
* The Jeffco schools administration has let PTAs and parent groups take over funding responsibilities that are properly those of the government ... like chairs for secretaries, cots for clinics, books for libraries. In other words, in addition to our tax dollars, the Jeffco school administration lets charity pick up the costs for basic needs. Somewhere the function of government has been shirked to others -- that's irresponsible.
* Jeffco schools is spending over $650,000,000 this year. Let's use some common sense: if nearly $8,000 per student is not enough, then something is wrong in the current administration.
I encourage all citizens who believe in responsible and economically sensitive taxing strategies to vote no on 3A and 3B.
I encourage all citizens interested in educational reform to send a message and vote no on 3A and 3B.