Steamboat School Board candidates divided on Prop 103


Election 2011

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Sandra Sharp


Rebecca Williams


Robin Crossan


Courtesy photo

Wayne Lemley

— The two candidates in Steamboat Springs’ only contested school board race have different opinions about Proposition 103, a tax initiative that would raise an estimated $2.9 billion for Colorado’s public schools over five years by raising the state’s sales and income taxes.

Sandra Sharp, a Colorado Mountain College adjunct faculty member, opposes the tax initiative, while her opponent Rebecca Williams, a technology consultant at Christian Heritage School, said Monday that she will vote for the measure in the November election.

Sharp said she cannot support a tax increase during a time of economic instability. She also said she didn’t support Proposition 103 because it does not specify how the revenue it would generate for public schools in Colorado would be distributed.

“What looks like a good thing could end up being a negative influence,” she said.

Sharp said increasing the amount of money a school district can spend on each of its students has not been proven to increase a student’s academic achievement. She said she supports finding other ways to increase funding for education but questioned whether a tax increase was a viable solution at this time.

“At a time when the economy is so fragile, and without a proven correlation between increased funding for school districts and an increase in a student’s academic performance, Proposition 103 could come back to bite us,” she said.

Williams, a former Steamboat Springs High School teacher, disagreed. She said increased funding to school districts does help to improve student achievement. She said additional revenue is needed in the Steamboat Springs School District to support programs administrators have considered discontinuing in the wake of reductions in state funding. Williams said those programs include fine arts class offerings and the option of offering both Spanish and French classes at the high school level.

“I know (Proposition 103) can save programs that provide more opportunities for our students that I don’t want to see go away,” she said.

Williams said school boards have a responsibility to outline the desired outcomes they would fund with an increase in revenue.

Unopposed Steamboat school board candidates Robin Crossan and Wayne Lemley have expressed support for the tax initiative. Proposition 103 also has been unanimously endorsed by the Steamboat Springs and South Routt school boards.

If passed by voters in November, Proposition 103 would raise an estimated $532 million in its first year of passage by raising the state’s income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 5 percent, and the sales and use tax rate from 2.9 to 3 percent until 2017.

However, it’s still unclear how that revenue would be distributed among schools in Colorado. If current state funding formulas are followed, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy estimates the tax increase could generate $1.2 million annually for the Steamboat Springs School District.

The Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly estimates the tax increase would cost a single person who makes $35,000 annually an extra $101 each year until 2017. Those who earn $70,000 annually can expect to see their taxes increase an extra $180 until 2017 if it passes, and married couples who file jointly with an annual income of $125,000 will see an increase of $315.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email


Scott Wedel 5 years, 6 months ago

“At a time when the economy is so fragile, and without a proven correlation between increased funding for school districts and an increase in a student’s academic performance, Proposition 103 could come back to bite us,” she (Sandra Sharp) said.

Williams, a former Steamboat Springs High School teacher, disagreed. She said increased funding to school districts does help to improve student achievement.

Well, clear factual dispute between the candidates. So, in a true scholarly manner, I request each candidate, or their supporters, post the references for the candidates claims.


Sandra Sharp 5 years, 6 months ago

I may have lost the election by not supporting Proposition 103; however, I have not lost my integrity. After a very critical evaluation of Proposition 103 it became evident that the only reasons to support 103 are: 1.)To show support of the current School Board 2.)To gain the voter support of certain agencies and individuals I, however, put the best interest of students’ first. Proposition 103 does not clearly designate any funding for K-12 education. The funds generated by Prop 103 may very well go entirely to administration. I will put the debate of per-pupil funding and student performance to rest. While I was evaluating the pros and cons of Prop 103, I researched both Amendment 23 and its impact on per-pupil funding and the impact of per-pupil funding on student performance. For several years now, I have been researching the impact of per-pupil funding. After a meeting with the school board I went up to Brad Meeks, SSSD Superintendent, and expressed to him that I was looking for a correlation between per-pupil spending and student performance. He replied you won’t find one; there is no correlation between per-pupil spending and student performance. There are more important issues in regards to Proposition 103. If Prop 103 passes, it will most likely be educations only chance (for the next five years) for a tax increase. Therefore, we cannot settle for a proposition which allows for multiple interpretations and may not result in any additional funding for our schools. We need to be forward thinking.
Supporters of 103 say that it will make up for past and future budget cuts. Again, there is no guarantee that any of the funds generated from Prop 103 will be distributed to our K-12 system. The fiscal impact study identifies the areas eligible for Prop 103 funding – K-12 is just one of many areas. The funding distribution from 103 funds has been left up entirely to the legislative body which never wanted 103 on the ballet! Supporters of 103 claim that 103 is a band aid. However, if 103 is voted in, our educational system will not be able to trade it in for a bigger band aid. I am not willing to endorse a proposition which will put education in such a vulnerable position. Estimating five years of economic uncertainty and school finance is like nailing Jell-O to the wall. We cannot afford to limit finance options – which is exactly what Prop 103 will do. Supporters of 103 claim that there will be a “spill over” gain for areas not receiving direct funding from 103. Unfortunately, this is not the reality of budgeting. If it is decided that funding from 103 will go to the administrative budgets of higher education and the Colorado Department of Education, in excess of the previous budget, there will no additional funding for K-12. I welcome any questions and/or comments.


Rebecca Williams 5 years, 6 months ago

Scott, thank you for your post. It is my belief that increased revenue from Proposition 103 (or any other tax measure) can help students’ overall academic achievement because it will allow our district to preserve and sustain extracurricular opportunities which I believe are vital to students’ academic performance, motivation, and learning in school. Programs such as band, music, art, and foreign language have continually been discussed when looking at budget cuts. In the article "State of the Arts" Myrick claims, “We’re losing the ability to hook our students with what their joy is. It might be playing a musical instrument. Or working with their hands in an art class. That joy is a natural bridge that can transfer over to math, history, and science. The things that are complex and heavy in these subjects become clearer when students do work they have joy in.”

These programs provide our students with the opportunity to be creative and learn outside of the typical classroom walls. It is my belief that these programs are essential in our schools. When a New Mexico school began to offer after-school enrichment programs, it allowed students to express their creativity and learn through means in which they are truly interested. These programs provide unique opportunities for students through self-exploration, personal expression, and a creative outlet. Through these programs we can increase student interest, exploration, and desire to learn. I think that is extremely beneficial to our students in Steamboat. I am in full support of continuing to offer band, art, choir, internship programs, foreign language, and any other program that provides students with this opportunity. Please feel free to contact me with any further questions or concerns you may have. Below are a few links to articles that I referenced or found to be helpful regarding this conversation.

I have limited my response here to a response that addresses the question you asked. I am willing to discuss Prop 103 more so please feel free to join the conversation or raise additional questions on my Facebook page:

Best Wishes, Rebecca


Scott Wedel 5 years, 6 months ago

Wow, I thank both of you.

Both appear to be rational arguments by thoughtful candidates.

And what is that picture of Wayne Lemley? A picture of him sailing his yacht? Going for the Richie Rich vote? Well, I guess he has already won since he is unopposed.


Dan Hill 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm with Sandra Sharp on this. Hers is not the popular stance - everyone wants to show they care about children and education - but it is the one supported by the data. We've been steadily increasing real spending per pupil for over 40 years in this country without any measurable improvement in education outcomes. The only rational conclusion is that lack of money is not the source of our education problems.

I'm also not terribly sympathetic to arguments that our kids are really going to suffer without extra-curricular activities like band and music and art. Sure it's nice for kids to have these options, but when everyone is hurting is it really necessary to ask others to pay for your kids to do these things?


Sandra Sharp 5 years, 6 months ago

It is because I do care so much about children and education that I oppose 103. I support programs such as music and foreign languages. However, Proposition 103 has not “designated” any funding for these programs. Nor has Proposition 103 “designated” any funding for K-12 education. There is only the possibility of funding for these programs. I am not willing to endorse a proposition based on possibilities. Especially when this proposition based on possibilities will rule out the option of future funding avenues. There are funding options, outside of state funding, available for many programs, including band. We should pursue these options.


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