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.
Steamboat Springs Education Association