St. Vrain Valley School District RE-1J Ballot Issue No. 3A
$14.8 million mill levy override to mitigate state funding cuts
Colorado’s state budget has been, despite the protections TABOR was meant to protect, chipping away at our schools. The state ranks 43rd in the nation for per-pupil dollars available, and in the St. Vrain Valley School District, despite passing a mill levy in 2008 to increase funding, per-pupil dollars today are lower than they were the year after that override was passed.
The belts are already notched down for St. Vrain, which includes Longmont, Niwot, Lyons, Frederick and much of Erie. The 4,000-employee district spends less than 3 percent of its budget on administration, when typically, a district of that size spends 8 percent to 10 percent of the annual budget on administration, according to Chris Barge of the Community Foundation, which has come out in support of the measure.
Ballot measure 3A, a mill levy override, provides some $14.8 million to the district (after it has absorbed $16.8 million in permanent cuts). That money will stay in local schools and provide funding to keep class sizes small, recruit qualified teachers and maintain full-day pre-school and kindergarten programs — where payoff is highest. Studies show each dollar invested in early education saves taxpayers $8 to $17 dollars down the road, Barge says.
“If it does not pass, what’s going to happen is you’re going to start feeling cuts at the classroom level,” Barge says. “They’ve been cutting and cutting and cutting in ways that have been the least visible to students.”
The mill levy override’s impact is $4.16 per month per $100,000 of a home’s market value.
And it’s not a lost cause. The district has improved its third grade reading scores from 78 percent to 81 percent between 2009 and 2012, seen increases in CSAP and ACT scores and increased the overall graduation rate by 4.5 percent.
Even after it passes, the district’s budget will be about $25 million less than neighboring Boulder Valley School District.
Vote yes on 3A to give kids in this district a better shot at catching up before it actually costs more to keep them on track.