Hayden School Board declines endorsement of Proposition 103

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Election 2011

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— After they discussed the implications of a statewide tax increase that would raise an estimated $2.9 billion for Colorado public schools over five years, Hayden School Board members on Wednesday decided not to endorse formally the measure that would raise the state’s sales and income taxes.

“I don’t think we need it as an action item,” board member Vance Fulton said. “I think we aired both sides well. We’re in dire straits, and we all agree something needs to happen. Let’s just leave it to the voters.”

Board President Brian Hoza said that the board agreed responses are needed to find ways to increase funding to public schools but that it did not feel it needed to vote on an endorsement.

Board members did, however, voice their personal opinions on the measure.

Fulton said that he supports the tax increase but that more long-term solutions are needed.

“I think it is needed, especially with the cuts we continue to face,” he said.

Hayden is the only school district in Routt County that has not formally endorsed Proposition 103, which would increase funding for the state’s public schools by an estimated $532 million in its first year of passage.

Citing the success of last year’s passage of a local tax increase for schools and an abundance of revenue from mineral leases, many of the board members said their district was in a different financial situation than the South Routt and Steamboat Springs school districts, both of which unanimously adopted resolutions in support of the tax initiative earlier this month.

Sharon Nereson said Hayden’s mill levy override, which this school year has increased the district’s budget by $323,000, makes Proposition 103 unfavorable.

Residents “have granted us this generous gift … and I think adding another tax to them would be counterproductive,” Nereson said. “I don’t agree with it.”

The board also heard Wednesday an update on the district’s current enrollment numbers. As of Sept. 19, the district had 383 students enrolled compared with 420 last year. Hayden Superintendent Mike Luppes said the numbers were disappointing.

“I’m afraid that’s just a sign of our economy and the time we’re in here,” he said. “So far, that’s really the only downer we’ve had to the start of our school year.”

Also at Wednesday's meeting, the board:

■ Unanimously approved a motion to allow sixth-grade students to participate in the middle school boys and girls basketball programs. Luppes said the decision would help the programs have enough students to compete after enrollment in the teams was lower last year.

■ Was briefed on the near completion of the demolition of the condemned middle school gym. Luppes said that the demolition went as planned and will likely be completed by Friday after a new window is installed where the door to the gym used to be.

— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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