Kathleen Huron: Yes to Proposition 103

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We are writing this letter on behalf of the Steamboat Springs Education Association to promote our endorsement of Proposition 103, to ask our community to support this vital lifeline for our schools and to vote “yes” on Prop 103.

It is a simple proposal that requires the state Legislature to take a five-year timeout from any further education cuts so that Colorado schools can stop the bleeding of funding and focus on the job of educating our young people. This break in cuts would allow time for revenues to recover and would give state legislators time to look for real solutions to some of the very complex problems facing education in Colorado today. The revenue created by Proposition 103 strictly will go to school funding for preschool, K-12 and higher education in the state.

Here in Steamboat, our community historically has been very supportive of our schools and has been willing to fund those schools and invest in the future of our children and our community. A strong public school system is one of the major factors that draws and keeps families and investors in our community. It keeps our economy growing.

Between fiscal years 2010 and 2012, Steamboat alone has lost $779 per student in funding, totaling a loss of $1,714,068 for the district. Prop 103 is vital to our community because it would restore $1,203,644 back into our district, into our classrooms and into our students’ educations. An investment in our schools is an investment in Steamboat’s economy.

Colorado currently ranks 49th in the nation in education funding, spending an average of $1,781 less per pupil than the national average. The most recent funding cuts have crippled our schools further with an additional $612 per-pupil cut throughout the past two years. In Steamboat, that has meant teacher layoffs and increased class sizes.

Prop 103 would restore Colorado’s tax rates to where they were in the 1990s, increasing income tax from 4.6 percent to 5 percent and increasing the state sales tax by 0.1 percent. Colorado’s tax burden is one of the lowest in the nation (ranked 45th). Prop 103 is a minimal tax increase that would allow Colorado schools to keep pace with the currently mandated school reform measures and to continue to offer the quality of education that we are so proud of in Steamboat.

Opponents to the measure claim that we have been pouring money into our schools for the past 20 years with no tangible results, but the above statistics show that is not accurate. In fact, we steadily have been de-funding our schools. They claim that the money will go into the general fund, which also is not accurate — it is earmarked specifically for school funding.

While the Steamboat Springs School District has maintained high standardized test scores and excellent ratings, we cannot always take that for granted. The potential cuts that Prop 103 aims to avoid would mean further cuts in staff and larger class sizes, cuts to many of our valuable programs in the arts, electives and sports and fewer opportunities for our students to achieve all they are capable of. Every child in our district and our state deserves a quality education.

To quote state Sen. Rollie Heath, who proposed Prop 103, “Each child gets only one chance at each grade in school.” Let’s make each of those grades count for each of our students. We ask Steamboat to vote “yes” on Prop 103 for the future of our students and our community.  

Kathleen Huron

Steamboat Springs Education Association

Comments

Sandra Sharp 2 years, 6 months ago

Kathleen makes several assumptions:

1.) There is no indication what-so-ever in Proposition 103 that $1,203,644 will be funded to our districts. In fact, if you read the Fiscal Impact Study you will find that 100% of the funds generated from Proposition 103 can go directly “to change administrative functions in the Department of Higher Education, or within the Colorado Department of Education, which could affect staffing levels in those department.”

2.) There are at least four different models available to measure Per-Pupil-Funding. One of these measures now ranks Colorado 40th for 2009. As Kathleen did point out, Colorado has maintained high test scores despite a lower per-pupil-funding. Thus, reinforcing the lack of correlation between per-pupil-funding and student performance.

A decade ago, Colorado was ranked “average” for per-pupil-funding. Then educators encouraged the public to pass Amendment 23, which was to save Colorado Schools from future funding cuts. Amendment 23, like Proposition 103 allowed several interpretations. Thus, per-pupil-spending dropped during the next ten years.

3.) Kathleen states that Prop 103 is a minimal tax increase. Each day more and more individuals and families are living pay-check-to-pay-check, or worse. For anyone struggling to make it, financially, this is not a minimal tax increase. For many families, Prop 103 is more than a week’s worth of groceries. Especially in today’s economy, assuming that $100-$200 “is minimal” is thoughtless. Each day more and more hard working individuals are suffering. Even though they may have a job, that job now pays less - yet bills do not decrease. Many people are now skipping meals and worse, trying to make ends meet. These people earn enough to be required pay slightly over the $100 a year for Prop 103, yet they cannot support a family on $35,000 a year.

I agree with Kathleen, Education is very important. My father did not get to attend school past 8th grade. My mom, growing up in England, spent days in bomb shelters instead of attending high school. Parents of friends I grew up with were raised in Nazi War Camps instead of attending school. My parents and my friend’s parents taught me one very valuable lesson: They can’t take your education away. Thus, I developed a life-long love and passion for education. In order to not only maintain but to improve student performance, we need to strengthen the fiscal stability of our schools. Proposition 103 just does not accomplish this.

Please, do not vote yes on a tax increase based on assumptions. Read the Fiscal Impact Summary. Then ask yourself, is this gamble in the best interest of our students and our tax payers? There are other funding options.

Go Vote! Sandra Sharp

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pstbrd 2 years, 5 months ago

Since 1993, the Steamboat Springs School District has received the proceeds from the 1/2% City sales tax which was intended to HELP KEEP CLASS SIZES SMALL. This annual amount started out at about $600,000.00 in the early years and in recent years has amounted to something over $2,000,000.00!!! These funds are in addition to the state funding amount. Assuming approximately 2000 students in the Steamboat district, this amounts to an extra $1,000.00 per student. Why should we tax ourselves further to send a bunch of money to Denver when we already tax ourselves to provide an extra $1,000.00 per student? And this funding source was created to keep classes small...now the union says that class sizes will grow without an increase in both our sales and incomes taxes..

We already have more money to spend than other school districts and yet, the union wants more. Oh yeah, about 85% of school budgets go to personnel. Now I get it!!!

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NamVet 2 years, 5 months ago

Unfortunately education is funded by tax dollars in the US. No one likes paying taxes but you get what you pay for. Education is the key to success and if you look at the unemployment rates those with a college education have a 4% unemployment rate and those with just a HS diploma have a 10% unemployment rate. The US has fallen from #1 in math and science to 25th in the world over the past 30 years. If we are to regain our leadership in the world we need to elevate the Teacher Profession by attracting the best and brightest. The only way to do that is to pay our teachers as Professionals like Doctors, Lawyers, Airline Pilots etc. who all make 6 figures The medium income for a HS grad in the US is $45,000 a year and that is what we pay our experienced teachers most of whom have Masters Degrees. They should use this small tax increase to start bringing up teacher salaries to where they belong. I realize over the past 30 years and especially the last 10 we as a country have become ant-tax but instead of spending Trillions invading countries on the other side of the world who won't do what we tell them how about investing our hard earned tax dollars on Americans. Education should come first followed by rebuilding our infrastructure here at home instead of Iraq and Afghanistan. It will pay dividends in the future.

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NamVet 2 years, 5 months ago

YVB, There are many people who went to Public School who were very successful. A few even became President of the US like Harry Truman, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Others like Gen. Colin Powell and Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor also went to Public School to name a few. The difference between them and you is that they applied themselves and worked and studied hard. You could have been successful in life also had you done the same. You get out of life what you put in it the same goes for Public School or Private School.

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